Author Zinzi Clemmons Accuses Junot Diaz of Forced Kiss

Diaz, a Pulitzer winner, recently wrote a New Yorker article saying he was sexually abused

Author Zinzi Clemmons accused Pulitzer Prize winning fellow writer Junot Diaz of cornering and forcibly kissing her while she was a grad student.

“As a grad student, I invited Junot Diaz to speak to a workshop on issues of representation in literature,” wrote Clemmons, author of “What We Lose,” on Twitter. “I was an unknown wide-eyed 26 yo, and he used it as an opportunity to corner and forcibly kiss me. I’m far from the only one he’s done this 2, I refuse to be silent anymore.”

Clemmons is now 33, which would mean the workshop was about seven years ago. Neither Diaz nor MIT, where he is a professor, immediately responded to requests for comment.

Diaz wrote an article for The New Yorker last month in which described suffering sexual abuse when he was 8 years old. He said he struggled emotionally for years, and that his relationships with women suffered as a result.

Clemmons said in another tweet Friday that she believes the New Yorker piece was an attempt by Diaz to preempt accusations of sexual misconduct.

Shortly after Clemmons’ said Diaz forced a kiss, authors Carmen Maria Machado and Monica Byrne described other troubling experiences with Diaz. While they didn’t accuse him of physical misconduct, they said the writer was abusive and sexist. Machado said Diaz “went off for me for 20 minutes” after she questioned him about “his protagonist’s unhealthy, pathological relationship with women” during a Q&A.

 

Byrne said Diaz used a rape analogy during a discussion, and then “literally shouted the word ‘rape’ in my face. This is after knowing me for maybe ten minutes. His response was completely bizarre, disproportionate, and violent. I was speechless and felt sick. I would have, anyway, but this was also only two weeks after I’d been sexually assaulted in Belize.”

She added: “Díaz didn’t physically assault me. But shouting the word ‘rape’ in my face is absolutely verbal sexual assault. Moreover, I was struck by the total disconnect between his public persona of a progressive literary idol and how he actually treated women.”