A Little Happier: Three Passers-by Stop to Comfort a Stranger, and Instead Share a Moment of Joy

I recently enjoyed hearing a happy story on the May 12, 2023, episode of The Book Review podcast, the podcast from the New York Times Book Review.

During the interview, the host Gilbert Cruz asked novelist Hernan Diaz about how he’d heard the thrilling news that he’d won the Pulitzer Prize for his second novel, Trust. Of course, winning the Pulitzer Prize is an enormously exciting achievement for a writer—it’s a huge accomplishment.

Hernan Diaz told the story. He was in Greenville, South Carolina, on his paperback tour. He was very hungry, and he stopped at a place that sold fried chicken and waffles. When he was halfway through his meal, he heard the announcement; he lost his composure and went outside to sit weeping on the curb.

Then, he said, three lovely older ladies came by, who asked, “Sweetheart, honey, are you okay?”

He shared the good news with them, and they were delighted for him. “Suddenly,” he said, “all four of us were hugging on the street. It was a good moment.”

I love thinking about the experience of these three thoughtful passers-by. They saw a stranger who they assumed was in deep distress, and they stopped to comfort him—and instead, they had the opportunity to share a joyful moment.

If you’d like to hear Hernan Diaz tell this story, he tells the story at about minute 21:44.




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