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  • President Barack Obama counts Junot Diaz as one of his favorite authors.

    President Barack Obama counts Junot Diaz as one of his favorite authors. | Photo: Flickr - Marc Nozell / ALA The American Library

Published 17 January 2017

Diaz’s embrace of Obama has sparked criticism arguing that the author is normalizing the president's neoliberal, militaristic legacy.

Pulitzer-prize winning Dominican novelist Junot Diaz, who weaves issues of race and immigration throughout his poignant novels, has sung high praises for outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama — the president that has earned the nickname “Deporter-in-Chief” for deporting more people than any other administration in the country’s history.

Junot Diaz: 'Radical Hope' Is Only Weapon in Face of Trump

Diaz lunched with Obama last week, invited as part of a contingent of the president’s favorite authors, alongside Dave Eggers, Cole Whitehad, Zadie Smith and Barbara Kingsolver.

While Diaz has been critical of Obama’s policies throughout his 8-year reign, the author took to Facebook to post an admiring message of the president and his legacy following the lunch.

“I had lunch with President Obama on Friday, which was surreal and extraordinary to say the least,” Diaz wrote. “I figured after all my criticism of his policies I wouldn’t be high on his list for anything but clearly there’s room at his lunch table for dissent, something we won’t be seeing a lot of with the next president. What surprised me was how completely unbowed President Obama was, how certain he was that the country would find its way. He burned with optimism and faith invincible.”

“If President Obama could still be positive after all the Republican bullshit he’d been through – that gave me hope,” Diaz continued. “He was certainly one of the most complete man I’d ever met. With only a few days left before he leaves office I find myself, more than anything, overwhelmed by the knowledge that over the next four years we’re going to be missing Obama something awful.”

Obama reciprocated the praise, revealing to the New York Times the books that sustained him throughout his presidency. Diaz’s books were among them. Obama said Diaz' novels speak “to a very particular contemporary immigration experience,” capturing a “longing for this better place but also feeling displaced.”

Diaz’s embrace of Obama has spurred criticism of the author for normalizing the outgoing president’s neoliberal, militaristic legacy.

Facebook page Dichos de un bicho wrote, “The singular worst thing that the election of Donald Trump has done is to sanitize and normalize the Obama administration as a paragon of decency.”

The user concludes more harshly, stating, “Fuck you, Junot Diaz. Fuck you for normalizing a murderer. Would you have sat down to eat with (Dominican dictator) Rafael Trujillo? Because that's who Obama is to the rest of the world.”

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