Exploring the art of prose


Author: Jaquira Diaz

Girls, Monsters by Jaquira Díaz

When we were twelve, we taught ourselves to fly. —John Murillo, from “Renegades of Funk” All of us girls, now women. —T Kira Madden, from “The Feels of Love” That winter, we watched New York Undercover on group phone calls,…

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Author’s Note

In lieu of an author’s note, we’ve compiled a few quotations from recent interviews with Jaquira Díaz in which she discusses her memoir.  —CRAFT

“Ordinary Girls is in some ways about navigating a certain kind of black and brown girlhood. So many of the details that were present during our girlhood are erased or disparaged in our literary culture. The details of my life are the details of a working-class life, of growing up in poverty in Miami Beach and in the Puerto Rican housing projects. The music I reference, the music that was the soundtrack to my life, was music of the streets. Hood culture is not considered high art, but what is hip-hop if not poetry? 2Pac was a poet. So was Nas. The old salsa I grew up on was made up of storytelling and myth and poetry. Héctor Lavoe and Willie Colón and Lucecita Benítez were storytellers and poets as well as singers. Music taught me to write sentences. I learned more about writing from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill than I ever learned from Hemingway.”

—Jaquira Díaz speaking about Ordinary Girls to Rebecca Godfrey for The Paris Review, December 19, 2019

“I definitely wish that there were more writing about girlhood and navigating a certain kind of home. I definitely wish there was more writing about girls growing up in poverty. Queer girls, black and brown girls. I didn’t have any books like that growing up. I mean, I certainly looked for them. I went to a library and what the librarians handed me were books about white people written by white people, written mostly by white men. I wish that there were an abundance of books about brown and black girlhood, about girls who grew up working class or in poverty. I also wish that there that there were just more books about Puerto Ricans, both in Puerto Rico and in the diaspora. When I was writing this book, I mean, I searched out almost every book written by a Puerto Rican in English that I could possibly find. And there weren’t that many.”

—Jaquira Díaz speaking about Ordinary Girls to Ashley N. Perez for The Millions, February 24, 2020