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Author Junot Diaz on Godfatherhood and His First Children’s Book

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao' discusses his new book 'Islandborn'


Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Diaz is the latest guest on the Fatherly Podcast. Diaz is not an actual father himself, but the author of the novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and the story collections Drown and This Is How You Lose Her is a godfather — or, as he says, padrino — to many of his friends’ children. The author also just released his first children’s book Islandborn so we wanted to talk to him about his new work and thoughts on (god)fatherhood.

On the episode, Diaz shares his thoughts on supporting his godchildren from the side, dealing with mental health challenges, and writing literature that offers something for both kids and adults. He also talks about the process behind writing Islandborn, the story about a young girl named Lola who can’t remember the island where she was born. Lola seeks answers from family and neighborhood folks and, with their help, stitches together a remembrance of her home — both good and bad. It’s a beautifully-rendered book that weaves together the history of the Dominican Republic, as well as Diaz’s own life.

Later in the episode, Fatherly science editor, Josh Krisch, talks with host Joshua David Stein about the topic of race. Or, rather, talking about talking about race, specifically with kids. Really young kids don’t have much of a sense of ethnicity until they’re older, so it can be a confusing, though important, conversation to have.

Listen to Junot Diaz on the Fatherly Podcast and tune back in next week for the last podcast episode of the season.