Junot Díaz on What It’s Like to Be an Immigrant in America

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I mean, the solitude of being an immigrant, the solitude of having to learn a language and a culture from scrap, led me to the need for some sort of explanation, the need for answers, the need for something that would give me – that would in some ways shelter me, led me to books, man. I was trying – as a kid I was very, very curious, kind of smart, and I was trying to answer the question, first of all, what is the United States, and how do I get along in this culture, this strange place, better? And also, who am I and how did I get here? And the way I was doing it was through books, man. You know, I just – I found books – when they’d showed me the library when I was a kid, a light went off at me in every cell of my body. Books became the map with which I navigated this new world.

-Author Junot Díaz, in a 2008 NPR interview, on the American immigrant experience.

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