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Author Junot Diaz Steps Down As Pulitzer Board Chair As Investigation Starts

UPDATE: The Pulitzer Prize board has started an investigation into the conduct of novelist Junot Diaz, who was name chairman last month.

“Mr. Díaz said he welcomed the review and would cooperate fully with it,” the Pulitzer board said in a statement. The board said he voluntarily stepped down from his chairmanship, but would remain with the organization.

EARLIER: A Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist has withdrawn from a writing festival after three women accused him of past sexual misconduct and harassment.

Junot Díaz was appearing at the Sydney Writers Festival when he was confronted by one of his alleged victims, author Zinzi Clemmons. She later posted her account on Twitter.

The festival later announced that Diaz withdrew from his remaining sessions at the event. He sent a note to the New York Times through his literary agent Nicole Aragi, and said, “I take responsibility for my past.”

Clemmons said in her Twitter post that Díaz, who won the 2008 Pulitzer for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, kissed her without consent.

“As a grad student, I invited Junot Díaz to speak to a workshop on issues of representation in literature. I was an unknown wide-eyed 26 yo, and he used it as an opportunity to corner and forcibly kiss me. Im far from the only one hes done this 2, I refuse to be silent anymore,” Clemmons said in the tweet.

“I told several people this story at the time, I have emails he sent me afterward (*barf*). This happened and I have receipts,” she said. Clemmons wrote the 2017 novel What We Lose.”

Her tweets led two more writers to step forward with Diaz incidents.

Author Monica Byrne of North Carolina tweeted that she was at a group dinner with Díaz in 2014 when he “shouted the word rape in her face” as part of “virulent misogyny.”

Carmen Maria Machado, also an author, tweeted an alleged incident of “bullying and misogyny” by Díaz during a promotional event for his 2012 short story collection, This is How You Lose Her.” Machado said Diaz was angered when she asked about “his protagonists unhealthy, pathological relationship with women,” berating her in front of a group.

“What really struck me was how quickly his veneer of progressivism and geniality fell away; how easily he slid into bullying and misogyny when the endless waves of praise and adoration ceased for a second,” she wrote.

Following the allegations of inappropriate and aggressive behaviour towards Zinzi Clemmons and other women, Junot Díaz has withdrawn from his remaining sessions at Sydney Writers Festival. Full statement available via the link below. https://t.co/5nQ2jr73cy

— Sydney Writers' Fest (@SydWritersFest) May 5, 2018

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