‘Will the real writer please stand up’

Flawed discursive self-presentation by Junot Diaz


  • Sreedhevi Iyer Lingnan University of Liberal Arts






As we enter the era of bullshitology, methods of evaluating ‘authenticity’ become even more necessary. Celebrity writers of color, like all writers, have to present themselves as themselves in literary discourse. However, due to the discursive tendency to pigeonhole authors of color, such authors instead construct a public persona to negotiate the paradoxical position they inhabit within the discourse. Junot Diaz, author of Pulitzer Prize-winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, presents himself differently across different communicative contexts, by indexing existing metapragmatic stereotypes regarding the ‘authentic’ author. The results emerge as demonstrating Diaz’s style-shifts that occur according to the size of the communicative contexts. The smaller the communicative platform, the more Diaz assuredly resists pigeonholing. Similarly, the larger the platform, the more Diaz capitulates towards pre-determined discursive labels. Such an outcome underlines the challenge contemporary authors face in order to remain viable and exert influence over prevailing cultural conversations.

Author Biography

Sreedhevi Iyer, Lingnan University of Liberal Arts

Sreedhevi Iyer is a writer and PhD graduate. Her PhD thesis will be forthcoming as a research monograph with John Benjamins, in their Linguistic Approaches to Literature series. Her creative work, Jungle Without Water, was shortlisted for the Penang Monthly Book Award in 2017. She is currently Writer-In-Residence with the Department of English at Lingnan University of Liberal Arts.


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How to Cite

Iyer, S. (2020). ‘Will the real writer please stand up’: Flawed discursive self-presentation by Junot Diaz. Writing and Pedagogy, 11(3), 375–410. https://doi.org/10.1558/wap.35202



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