Junot Diaz Annotates ‘The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao’ on Poetry Genius

By Jason Boog Comment

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Junot Díaz annotated a section of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao on Poetry Genius, giving readers a peek at the real life stories behind his great novel.

Poetry Genius is a section of Rap Genius, the growing site that allows readers and writers to annotate sections of any text. Here’s an excerpt where Díaz explains how his mother’s dangerous childhood experience ended up in his novel:

it wasn’t fever that nearly killed my mom—it was getting herself lost in up in the highlands of Ázua for a couple of days, until all hope was lost. She was only 5 or 6 at the time and the way my mother tells it just when she was nearly dead from hunger and thirst she came upon a talking mongoose in the brush that led her back to civilization and that’s the only reason she lived long enough to have us, her children. Because of some talking mongoose. I like to think the mongoose was a visitor from another planet. I’m way more SF than magical realista.

Earlier this year, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg annotated her writing on the site as well.

In an email interview with GalleyCat, Poetry Genius editor Austin Allen explained how other writers can get involved on the site:

Poets are encouraged to add their own work to the site and comment on it through our Verified Artists program, in which hundreds of amateur and professional lyricists (including rappers Nas, Common, and 50 Cent) have participated since the site’s inception. Literary scholars and critics are also invited to register as Verified experts on the authors (past or present) whose work they study … we will be featuring the writing and commentary of prominent poets and critics every month.”

(Author photo via Nina Subin)