It's been a big year for the fiction writer who teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was granted a MacArthur fellowship, an honor commonly known as the Genius Award. A week later, he was named a finalist for a National Book Award for "This is How You Lose Her."
Diaz immigrated with his family from the Dominican Republic to New Jersey when he was six. His mother doesn't speak or read English and still thinks the author who won a Pulitzer Prize for "The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" should have become a doctor.