Junot Diaz Returns to Pulitzer Prize Board After Sexual Misconduct Investigation

Illustration for article titled Junot Diaz Returns to Pulitzer Prize Board After Sexual Misconduct Investigation
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The Pulitzer Prize has welcomed back author Junot Diaz as chairman of the board after a five-month independent investigation into sexual misconduct claims found no reason he should not be.


In a press release, the board said it was committed to “a thorough, wide-ranging, fair, and independent review” of the claims against Diaz that would “follow the facts wherever they might lead.” In a statement to the New York Times, Diaz said “I am grateful the investigation found the truth,” and “I look forward to returning to the Pulitzer’s important work.”

Diaz voluntarily stepped down from the Pulitzer Prize board in May, after author Zinzi Clemmons accused Diaz of forcibly kissing her at a literary workshop. “I’m far from the only one he’s done this 2,” she wrote on Twitter, “I refuse to be silent anymore.” Diaz denied Clemmons’ allegations through a statement: “I take responsibility for my past,” Díaz said, adding “I am listening to and learning from women’s stories in this essential and overdue cultural movement. We must continue to teach all men about consent and boundaries.”

Another writer, Carmen Machado, wrote in a series of tweets about the time she attended Diaz’s book tour and asked him to explain “his protagonist’s unhealthy, pathological relationship with women” and Diaz responded by “rais[ing] his voice,” “refus[ing]” to move on, and “became freshly enraged” when Machado would not concede his point of view.

“He told me he was leaning on me to explain myself, which is what he did with his students,” she wrote. “(Never mind that I wasn’t his student, or a student at all.)”

Audio of that interaction reportedly circulated online. The investigation commissioned by the Pulitzer Prize Board presumably heard it; its press release states that the investigation “involved interviews with dozens of witnesses and analysis of hundreds of pages of documents (as well as audiotapes, where available).”


The sexual misconduct claims against the author came after the New Yorker published an essay in which Diaz wrote about being raped as a child. Many women writers, speaking out on social media, felt that the essay has been published as a pre-emptive apology for the allegations that would soon come out.

Senior Writer, Jezebel



This is too bad. The lawyers for the board interviewed me in late August. I gave them names of witnesses etc. Did they not take what I had to say seriously? Junot Diaz is a very troubled person and should not be in any gatekeeping role that puts him in contact with young women writers of color. What a travesty.