Author Junot Diaz writes a powerful personal essay, “The Silence” in the April 16 New Yorker. It is a letter to an anonymous fan who approached him after a reading, stood in line and asked if the sexual abuse alluded to in Diaz’s books happened to the author.
This is Diaz breaking the silence, not that day, but many days and years later. It is his emergence away from the mask that both shields him and destroys him.
As a teacher of English teachers, I always caution my teacher candidates to not allow themselves and their students to automatically make leaps in literature. Not everything is personal autobiography for the authors. It is a dangerous assumption to make.
However, this type of evidence, the mana, that spiritual power of a writer writing about his/her writing and how themes in their life intersect and seep out into their work is valuable and must be collected and held in our “teacher memory” so that we can help our students delve deeper into the psychological, spiritual and aesthetic power of literature.
What is sacred:
Iʻm still afraid–my fear like continents and the ocean between–but I’m going to speak anyway, because, as Audre Lorde has taught us, my silence will not protect me.