If the title character of author Junot Diaz’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao were a real person, he would probably read Techland — Oscar is well versed on Lord of the Rings, the Fantastic Four and all things nerdy. Alongside pop culture sits the Dominican Republic and its former dictator Rafael Trujillo — all three of which cast long shadows over Oscar, the novel, and the life of its author. As a young child, Diaz immigrated from the D.R. to New Jersey, where he became consumed with television and movies. Diaz spoke with TIME about his love of Bruce Lee flicks and why The Breakfast Club was more like a fantasy movie than any fantasy movie could ever be.
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