Junot Díaz: Pulitzer to review misconduct claims against US author

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Junot Diaz Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mr Diaz said he took responsibility for his past

The Pulitzer prize board says it will investigate allegations of sexual harassment made against its member, Pulitzer-winning author Junot Díaz.

The 49-year-old, who was elected Pulitzer chairman in April, is stepping down from that role but will remain on the board, the organisation said.

He has been accused by author Zinzi Clemmons of forcibly kissing her six years ago when she was a student.

Earlier this month he said he took responsibility for his past.

Mr Díaz has welcomed the Pulitzer board’s independent review and will cooperate fully with it, the organisation said in a statement.

Last month the Dominican-American author – who won the 2008 Pulitzer in fiction for his book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – wrote an article in The New Yorker magazine describing how he was raped as a child.

In his statement responding to Ms Clemmons’s allegations, Mr Díaz said it was vital to teach men about consent.

“I take responsibility for my past. That is the reason I made the decision to tell the truth of my rape and its damaging aftermath. This conversation is important and must continue,” he said.

“I am listening to and learning from women’s stories in this essential and overdue cultural movement. We must continue to teach all men about consent and boundaries.”

The author was confronted by Ms Clemmons during a session at the Sydney Writers’ Festival on 4 May. She referred to the New Yorker article and then asked him why he had treated her the way he had, attendees told the New York Times newspaper.

She then repeated the allegation on social media, alleging that she was “far from the only one” he had sexually harassed.

She added that she believed that Mr Diaz’s article about his experience of rape had been written to distract attention from allegations about his behaviour that he feared were about to emerge.

Read more on the global backlash against sexual harassment

More female US authors have since said that Mr Diaz behaved aggressively towards them and accused him of making “misogynistic” comments.

There have been a series of harassment allegations made against authors in recent months.

Earlier this month the organisation that decides the Nobel Prize for Literature said it would not announce an award this year after it was engulfed in a scandal over its handling of allegations against the husband of a member.

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