books and reading · culture/multiculturalism · Hispanics/Latinos · Junot Diaz · New York · writing

Calls to the Platano Mainland

Junot Diaz with his little book.

I called my father to tell him about Junot Diaz’s new book, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I’m not sure which was stranger, the fact that I was calling my father (a rare occurrence) or the fact that I was talking to him about literature (he prefers action films). Having a cellphone (the fabulous Blackberry Curve) that actually works makes international calls much easier.

“Dad, this Dominican guy won the Pulitzer!”

“The what?”

“The Pulitzer Prize, Dad. It’s a BIG prize for writing. It’s, like, smaller than the Nobel.” I mean, he must have heard of the Nobel Prize, right?

“Wow. Really?”

“Yes, Dad. And he’s 100% Dominican. He wasn’t even born in America. And the whole book is about being Dominican.” And other stuff. According to people in Washington Heights, I’m not 100% Dominican because I was 100% born in New York.


“Yes, Dad. Can you wrap your mind around that? Some Dominican guy won this big prize for a book about being Dominican American. It’s, like, amazing. Like, if I could go back and tell myself that someone would be interested in reading a book about being Dominican. It would have blown my mind.”

Dad laughs.

He is, after all, a man of few words. Lucky for him, I am a woman of many.

One thought on “Calls to the Platano Mainland

  1. Aliza – I came across your site while looking up some of the meanings of the words in Oscar Wao.What a fascinating life you have had.I love the book and am learning so much about the DR. Also the poem at the beginning introduced me to Wallcott, what a find.I am white-Jewish-Zimbabwean born.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s