A small piece I wrote for the New Yorker about my first experience with TV back when TV was still rare on the street I grew up on in Santo Domingo. "The diasporic imagination really is its own superpower."
Junot Diaz / Facebook
Dominican writer Junot Diaz (“Drown,” “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” “This is How You Lose Her”) recently published a short story in The New Yorker that may sound familiar to anyone who grew up dreaming about what life was like in the U.S. Titled “Watching Spider-Man In Santo Domingo,” Diaz tells the story of himself as a poor kid growing up in the Dominican Republic with only his imagination to play with. The MacArthur Genius Award recipient writes that he once considered “watching goats climb onto cars and houses serious entertainment.” All of this changed when a friend in his neighborhood bought the first TV he’d ever laid his eyes on. And on that TV was Spider-Man. Diaz somehow convinced himself that Spider-Man and his father, both of whom were living in the U.S. at the time, were the same person.
The realization for Diaz in the story is both full of naive child-like wonderment and melancholic hindsight.
“And here was my first television and my first cartoon and my first superhero—a hero who, like my father, was in America—and somehow it all came together for me in a lightning bolt of longing and imagination. My father’s absence made perfect sense. He couldn’t come back right away because he was busy fighting crime in N.Y.C. . . . as Spider-Man.
The diasporic imagination really is its own superpower.”
Although he finally does come to realize his dad isn’t Spider-Man, Diaz figures out his father’s true identity. Check the full short story out to get a deeper look into the life of the Diaz and open a time capsule of what life in the Dominican Republic was during his youth.
It’s probably better that Diaz found Spider-Man before the advent of the Internet, because this is what you get when you look up “Dominican” and “Spider-Man” now.
This might have changed his view of Spider-Man forever. 🕷🤣
[H/T] The New Yorker