The 'This Is How You Lose Her' author recently broke bread with POTUS and fellow authors

By Oliver Gettell
Updated January 17, 2017 at 07:23 PM EST
Leigh Vogel/Getty Images; Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Pulitzer-winning author Junot Díaz has penned a heartfelt tribute to President Obama after sharing a “surreal and extraordinary” lunch with him and four fellow novelists.

Although Díaz, whose books include The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This Is How You Lose Her, has at times been critical of Obama’s immigration policies and narrative prowess, he had nothing but praise for the outgoing POTUS in a Facebook message posted Monday.

“I figured after all my criticism of [Obama’s] policies I wouldn’t be high on his list for anything,” Díaz wrote, “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.”

As the New York Times reported, Obama had lunch last week with five novelists he admires: Díaz, Dave Eggers, Colson Whitehead, Zadie Smith, and Barbara Kingsolver. They discussed politics and the media landscape, and also talked shop about the life of letters.

Obama told the Times he appreciates how Díaz’s fiction (and that of Jhumpa Lahiri) speaks to “a very particular contemporary immigration experience” as well as to the quintessentially American experience of “longing for this better place but also feeling displaced.”

In Díaz’s Facebook post, he expressed admiration for Obama’s unbreakable spirit — and anxiety about his successor. He wrote, “If President Obama could still be positive after all the Republican [bulls‑‑‑] he’d been through–that gave me hope. 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.”

Read Díaz’s post above.

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