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Since 2007, Diaz was reported to be working on another novel, entitled Monstro; however, in June 2015 Diaz stated that he had effectively abandoned that novel. Throughout most of his early childhood, he lived with his mother and grandparents while his father worked in the United States.

Díaz immigrated to Parlin, New Jersey, in December 1974, where he was re-united with his father.

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Díaz was a Millet Writing Fellow at Wesleyan University, in 2009, and participated in Wesleyan's Distinguished Writers Series.

He has been published in Story, The Paris Review, and in the anthologies The Best American Short Stories five times (1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2013), The PEN/O. He is best known for his two major works: the short story collection Drown (1996) and the novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007).

Díaz said about the protagonist of the novel, "Oscar was a composite of all the nerds that I grew up with who didn't have that special reservoir of masculine privilege.

Oscar was who I would have been if it had not been for my father or my brother or my own willingness to fight or my own inability to fit into any category easily." He has said that he sees a meaningful and fitting connection between the science fiction and/or epic literary genres and the multi-faceted immigrant experience.

Both were published to critical acclaim and he won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for the latter.