Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Junot Díaz has vehemently denied allegations of sexual misconduct and misogynistic verbal abuse leveled against him by three women in May.
In his first interview since he was accused of inappropriate behavior, Díaz told The Boston Globe he was “shocked” by the allegations. “I was, like, ‘Yo, this doesn’t sound like anything that’s in my life, anything that’s me,’” he said.
Díaz also tried to differentiate between his fiction (which often features male characters treating women poorly) and his own life, and between sexual misconduct and consensual relationships gone awry. “There is a line between being a bad boyfriend and having a lot of regret, and predatory behavior,” he said.
In early May, Díaz was accused of cornering and forcibly kissing writer Zinzi Clemmons when she was a grad student, and of verbally bullying two other fellow writers, Carmen Maria Machado and Monica Byrne. The accusations came in the wake of Díaz’s own revelation in an essay that he had been sexually assaulted as a child.
Immediately following the accusations, Díaz issued a statement to the New York Times that said, “I take responsibility for my past. That is the reason I made the decision to tell the truth of my rape and its damaging aftermath. This conversation is important and must continue. 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.”
Speaking to the Globe, Díaz lamented that statement. “I’ve written a lot of crap in my life,” he said. “One does when one’s a writer. But, definitely, that statement is the worst thing I’ve written, the worst thing I’ve put my name to. Boy, I wish I’d had the presence of mind to rewrite the damn thing.”
In response to the allegations, Díaz previously relinquished his role as the chairman of the Pulitzer Pride board and became the subject of separate investigations at MIT and the The Boston Review, where he held teaching and editing jobs, respectively. Those investigations have concluded, and Díaz will keep both positions. The author is still the subject of an investigation by the Pulitzer board, of which he is still a member.