Jaquira Díaz

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Jaquira Diaz at the 2019 Texas Book Festival

Jaquira Díaz is a Puerto Rican fiction writer, essayist, journalist, cultural critic.


Jaquira Díaz
  • This is who I write about and who I write for. For the girls they were, for the girl I was, for girls everywhere who are just like we used to be. For the black and brown girls. For the girls on themerry-go-round making the world spin. For the wild girls and the party girls, the loudmouths and troublemakers. For the girls who are angry and lost. For the girls who never saw themselves in books. For the girls who love other girls, sometimes in secret. For the girls who believe in monsters. For the girls on the edge who are ready to fly. For the ordinary girls. For all the girls who broke my heart. And their mothers. And their daughters. And if I could reach back through time and space to that girl I was, to all my girls, I would tell you to take care, to love each other, fight less, dance dance dance until you're breathless. And goddamn, girl. Live.
    • Ordinary Girls (2019) p 313
  • The world isn’t kind to black and brown girls, or black and brown women, especially when they come from working-class communities or from poverty. My girls taught me that it’s possible to make our own families, to find our families. They helped me believe in love and friendship and hope. But more than anything, after they had girls of their own, it was their girls who taught me the most important lessons: they helped me see the girl I was…
  • Because of anti-blackness in the United States and Latin America, most of us are either hyper-visible or invisible, or both simultaneously. So many people I’ve had conversations with don’t even know that Latinxs are not a race or that black people exist in Puerto Rico (and throughout all of Latin America) and that we don’t all look exactly the same. As a light-skinned black Boricua, I’m often read as racially ambiguous, and because of colorism, I benefit from my proximity to whiteness. I think it’s our responsibility (those of us who benefit from light-skinned privilege or racial ambiguity or whiteness) to have a reckoning with race, to do the work to actively address institutional racism, as well as racism and colorism in our everyday lives, not just in the public eye. Otherwise, we are complicit.
  • My origins as a writer started with my father loving books and, for me, reading about the history of Puerto Rico from my father’s books and learning about this very early. This history deeply affected me and who I became as a writer. But also feeling like this history has been for the most part erased. It’s not something that we’re taught in school and it’s not something that Puerto Ricans or that Latinos learn, unless you go out and search for it. There are not a lot of resources. And, often when you find a history book, it’s not written by women, especially not women who grew up in poverty, so it’s not accessible to everyone.
  • my dream would be to have an Ordinary Girls TV show that has a very inclusive writers’ room that’s full of queer, Afro-Latina and people of color writers that prioritize and center our stories.

Interview with NPR (2019)[edit]

  • I was in a state of rage, also. I was so angry and I couldn't really explain why. I didn't have the language for it. And so I turned to what I knew, I remembered the kind of woman my mother had been — in a lot of ways, I was acting out, I was performing the same thing.
    • On becoming a juvenile delinquent
  • I hadn't been there in a very long time, because everyone who's ever lived there who has been lucky enough to get out knows that you don't go back. And I did go back, and I wanted to get a look at our house. I went back to my old elementary school, and I walked around and then, while I was there, a boy — this is very emotional, but a boy on a bike came up to my car and told me to leave. Basically approached me and said I didn't belong there. And I told him I used to live there, I grew up there and that I know my way around. And he was like "No, you have to leave. You don't belong here." But the truth is that I don't. As much as I love El Caserío and as much as it feels like home, it's not my place anymore.
    • On returning back to her hometown
  • I suffer from major depression, so every day is a struggle, even though every day is a blessing.


  • My story wasn’t unique — somewhere there is a teenage girl with a mother who suffers from mental illness and addiction, just trying to get through the day. Maybe seeing herself in this book will make life a little bit easier.
  • When I was a kid, I never felt like I fit anywhere. I felt like an outsider in almost every situation, like an alien in my own family. There were times when being queer and closeted, when being Black and Puerto Rican, meant I felt hyper-visible and invisible all at once. You can see some of this in the book. I spent most of my adolescence hiding who I was, pretending to be someone else. There were times when I thought that what I wanted most was to be ordinary. An ordinary girl. And then something shifted. As I fell deeper into depression, as I got angrier and angrier, I thought an ordinary girl was the worst thing you could possibly be. It was much more about negotiating girlhood, a certain kind of girlhood, and what that meant. By the end of the book, there’s an acceptance, as I embrace the kind of girl I was, and realize that these ordinary girls were capable of amazing feats. They saved me—their friendship, their love. They anchored me.
  • Cishet men are always considered intellectuals, even when they write domestic novels or memoirs about boyhood.

Quotes about Jaquira Díaz[edit]

  • Jaquira Díaz writes about ordinary girls living extraordinary lives. And Diaz is no ordinary observer. She is a wondrous survivor, a woman who has claimed her own voice, a writer who writes for those who have no voice, for the black and brown girls 'who never saw themselves in books.' Jaquira Díaz writes about them with love. How extraordinary is that!
  • Jaquira Díaz is an unstoppable force. Her writing is alive with power. I stand in awe of what she brings us. The future is here.

External links[edit]

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