Junot Díaz is home again, and everyone here seems to know it. From the moment we walk into Harlem’s Café Largo—all tea lights and exposed brick, chicken milanese jostling for menu space with chicharrones de pollo—people rush up to say hello. The hostess greets Díaz by name. The manager gets up from his bar stool and gives Díaz an emphatic handclasp and a how-do. The tall guys at the next table, the former student, the children from the birthday party, the man who leans in from the open window: they all know him, and they want to welcome him back.
“I haven’t been in here for six months,” Díaz explains. Since the publication in late 2007 of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, his acclaimed first novel, Díaz has been on the move. He was in California yesterday and will be upstate tomorrow. He doesn’t know how long it’s been since he slept in the same bed for two consecutive nights.