Each spring, Vassar College presents its Alex Krieger ’95 Memorial Lecture, endowed in honor of a student who died in an automobile accident during his freshman year. Lecturers are often big names in the media world, and this year’s choice seems especially timely: Dominican-American author Junot Díaz, who won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics’ Circle Award for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
This erstwhile literary wunderkind, now 49, is also the author of Drown; This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times best-seller and National Book Award finalist; and Islandborn. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, the PEN/Malamud Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the PEN/O. Henry Award.
But this week in particular, the world of belles-lettres is abuzz with admiration for Díaz’s moving account in The New Yorker about the fact that he was raped at the age of eight, and the way that the need to conceal that fact has twisted his life and relationships ever after. His essay, “The Silence: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma” (https://bit.ly/2IEtgXG), is a powerful addition to the testimonies of the #metoo movement.
Junot Díaz’s talk will begin at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18 in the Villard Room of the Main Building on the Vassar campus. As always with the annual Krieger Lecture, this event is free and open to the public; but early arrival is recommended if you want to make sure of a seat and a parking space within reasonable walking distance. Vassar College is located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie. For more information, visit www.vassar.edu.