During his speech at Elon University Sept. 10, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz emphasized the importance of fostering diverse communities and discussed how his diverse upbringing influenced his work.

“Your generation is basically caught in a nightmarish experiment,” he said. “You’re going to be messing with this thing a lot longer than me. This country is incredibly diverse. Often it is hard because a lot of us are in groups of friends and social circuits that are not really diverse.”

He noted that many authors and artists come from little-known, highly diverse places.

“Art is evaluated, consumed and judged in somewhere,” he said. “But the real art is produced in nowhere.”

Diaz, who was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey, was exposed to a multitude of perspectives during his childhood and soon realized the significance of the diversity around him.

“I belong to a community that has had such a profound impact on this country,” he said.

His childhood experiences partly inspired much of his work. Diaz is the author of two short story collections and a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, all of which are about young Dominican men and love. During his speech, Diaz read some of “Wildwood,” a short story from the collection “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.”

The story was a second-person account of a Dominican girl who learns her mother has cancer. The reading described the girl’s interaction with her mother in a bathroom and alluded to its effects.

“You change, too,” Diaz said. “Not right away, but it happens. And it started in that bathroom.”