Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz to address the New Student Forum Aug. 26

Students will have the chance to talk with Diaz about ‘The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao’

Junot Diaz

WALTHAM, Mass.— The first day of classes may not be until Aug. 27, but the fall semester really begins for the newest members of the campus community the night before, when author Junot Diaz will talk about his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” at the 2009 Helen and Philip Brecher New Student Forum.

Now in its 17th year, the forum is an orientation tradition designed to engage incoming students with the author of a notable book, while also giving them a taste of the Brandeis academic experience. Before the forum, students will take part in faculty-led, smaller group discussions about the novel, which they read over the summer. To warm them up, Orientation Core Committee members have already started the discussion online, in a New Student Forum blog.

“The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” is the coming-of-age tale of a Dominican “ghetto-nerd” from New Jersey who utilizes a unique mix of science-fiction, fantasy, pop culture, and classic literary references in telling his family’s story. In addition to the 'Oscar Wao' coverPulitzer, the novel was also honored with the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, among other distinguished recognitions.

“The Helen and Philip Brecher New Student Forum book selection committee chose ‘The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao’ because of its rich cultural context and its juxtaposition and interweaving of vernacular and literary voices,” said committee chair, and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Adam B. Jaffe. “It addresses the issues of ethnic identity, nationality, and race at a time when these are central to the American political, social, and educational scenes.”

Junot Diaz is the latest in a distinguished group of authors, including James Carroll (“American Requiem”) and Tim O'Brien (“The Things They Carried”), who have addressed the new student forum. Click here to watch a video on last year’s forum, which featured Rory Stewart, the author of “The Places in Between.”

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