The Dominican-American writer Junot Diaz was born in Villa Juana, a neighborhood in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on December 31, 1968. He was a middle child, being the third out of five children. He lived in the Dominican Republic with his grandparents and mother while his father worked in the United States. In 1974, at the age of six, Diaz went to live with his father in Parlin, New Jersey.
They lived very near to one of the biggest landfills in New Jersey. The young Diaz devoured books as a child. He would walk four miles to the local public library just to borrow books.
Diaz went to Madison Park elementary and graduated from Cedar Ridge High School. Apocalyptic movies and books caught his interest. These were authors like John Christopher, the BBC miniseries Edge of Darkness and the original Planet of the Apes movies.
Diaz first attended Kean College in Union, New Jersey. But after only one year, he transferred to Rutgers College, where he majored in English. During his stay in Rutgers, he was an active member of Demarest Hall, which focused on creative-writing and living-learning. This is where he read Toni Morrison and Sandra Cisneros, the authors who motivated him to become a writer. He was also a member of many student organizations.
Coming from a poor family, Diaz worked his way through college by pumping gas, washing dishes, delivering pool tables and holding down a job at Raritan River Steel.
Diaz is the Pulitzer-prize winning author of Drown and The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.