Andrew Boryga on “Victim”

“It was definitely in demand, this narrative of explain to me your oppression, you know, explain to me how hard you had it.”

If you liked American Fiction, you’ll love Andrew Boryga’s debut novel Victim, from Doubleday. It follows the career of Javier Perez, who learns at an early age the benefits—and devastating consequences—of writing about one’s traumas and victimization. High school teachers encouraged “Javi” to write about how tough things are for him, so he could get into college. It worked. At Cornell, he wrote stories about race on campus, and his personal experience with race. After graduation, his blossoming career as a writer was based on telling the gritty stories his editors found compelling. The problem was that much of what he wrote was untrue. His family, friends, and an old lover don’t understand why he opted for these false accounts of his life. But you’re just going to have to read Victim in order to find out how it all blows up in his face, and what lessons he has learned, if any. In this second episode of Writing Latinos, Boryga describes how he arrived at the idea to write Victim, his thoughts about the relationship between his life and the characters he invented, and speculation about how Victim might be read in the post–affirmative action era. Boryga is a Miami-based writer who grew up in the Bronx, where much of the action in Victim takes place




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View a transcript of the episode here.





Mentioned in this episode:

  • Junot Diaz
  • Ernesto Quiñonez



Writing Latinos is a production of Public Books. The show’s host is Geraldo Cadava, co-editor-in-chief of the magazine, and show’s producer is Tasha Sandoval. Our theme music is “City of Mirrors” by Dos Santos.



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By Geraldo Cadava
Featured image: Photograph of Andrew Boryga © David Gonzalez