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Junot Diaz, 43, Cambridge

In lyrical but unsentimental works of fiction, Diaz takes readers into a life lived somewhere between the Dominican Republic, where he was born, and the United States, where he has lived since he was a teenager. "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" (2007) traces generations pursuing dreams in both countries and cultures; and Diaz's short stories portray the grit and poetry of everyday life in a cross-cultural existence.Home Front Communications