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Junot Díaz denies misconduct allegations, says he was 'shocked'

"I was, like, 'Yo, this doesn't sound like anything that's in my life, anything that's me,'" the acclaimed author says.
by Daniel Arkin /

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Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz is vehemently denying sexual misconduct allegations against him, saying that he was "distressed," "confused" and "panicked" by the accusations.

"I was shocked," Díaz told The Boston Globe in his first interview since the allegations emerged. "I was, like, 'Yo, this doesn't sound like anything that's in my life, anything that's me.'"

Díaz, the author of the celebrated novel "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," has been accused of inappropriate behavior with women, including a claim that he once forcibly kissed writer Zinzi Clemmons.

Junot Diaz
Junot Díaz at his MIT office in 2013.Essdras M Suarez / Boston Globe via Getty Images file

Clemmons publicly confronted Díaz at a May literary festival in Australia. In the wake of her accusation, other women — the authors Alisa Valdes, Carmen Maria Machado and Monica Byrne — came forward with stories of alleged verbal abuse and misogyny by Díaz.

In his interview with the Globe, Díaz, 49, categorically denied Clemmons' claim, saying: "I did not kiss anyone. I did not forcibly kiss Zinzi Clemmons. I did not kiss Zinzi Clemmons. It didn't happen."

The accusations came soon after Díaz penned an essay for The New Yorker in which he said he was raped as a child. He wrote that the assault took a toll on his adult relationships.

Díaz has kept his teaching position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his fiction editor role at the Boston Review after separate investigations.

Three other editors at the Boston Review resigned in protest of the literary magazine's decision to retain Díaz despite the allegations.

The editors in chief of the magazine said in a public letter last month that the "objectionable conduct described in the public reports does not have the kind of severity that animated the #MeToo movement."

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