Riv Begun
Historical Fantasy Writer

An Open Letter to Junot Diaz

Professor Díaz,

You and I have something very significant in common. We are both lovers of stories. We seek them, we cultivate them, we tell them.

I have loved your stories. I have walked down busy streets with your words in my hands, peripheral visions passing me as I maneuvered toward my destination, at once in my story and in your story.

Oscar, Yunior, Nilda.

Your stories have become integral parts of the literary quilt that forms my worldview. I have let them simmer and seep in my mind, allowing them to open up spaces of the imagination that I never knew existed, creating pathways toward understanding and a ceaseless pursuit to know more.

As someone who lived in Israel, I also have my own stories.

The Palestinian student studying medicine at an Israeli University. My best friend, a Yemenite girl who guards the border between Israel and Egypt. A Druze man I met on his way to his Jewish friends wedding after they both served in the army together. A Honduran woman I met at the Dead Sea who left her husband to find G-d.

I won’t tell you what to believe. I won’t tell you what political movements to endorse. I will ask you, though, to continue to seek stories. People on all sides of the Middle East conflict have their own opinions. They will tell you what to believe, they will send you articles and photos that they doctored for their own benefit. The only way to know the truth is to gather stories-as many as you can.

Visit Israel. Don’t go with any political groups. Don’t have only one guide tell you how to see the world. They have their stories and they will want you to see the world as they do. Ask as many people on the streets, in the villages, on the beaches, in the hills….ask them for their stories and gather enough to come close to the truth. I want to open up your mind the way that you opened up mine.

Before you make any conclusions, seek out stories. I will continue to do the same.

A lover of your work,

Lindsey Cohen

About the Author
Riv Begun is a speculative fiction and fantasy writer from Atlanta, Georgia. She combines her love of history, travel and family stories to create multigenerational tales inspired by her own family's past. She is a POSSE Foundation alumni and graduated from Boston University with a BFA in screenwriting. You can find her work at