Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Díaz’s first book, Drown, established him as a major new writer with “the dispassionate eye of a journalist and the tongue of a poet” (Newsweek). His first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, was named #1 Fiction Book of the Year” by Time magazine and spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, establishing itself – with more than a million copies in print – as a modern classic. In addition to the Pulitzer, Díaz has won a host of major awards and prizes, including the National Book Critic’s Circle Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, the PEN/O. Henry Prize, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the Anisfield-Wolf Award.
Now Díaz turns his remarkable talent to the haunting, impossible power of love – obsessive love, illicit love, fading love, maternal love. On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness–and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own. In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, the stories in This Is How You Lose Her lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.”
About Junot Diaz
Junot Díaz is the author of Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize and was named Time’s#1 Fiction Book of 2007. He is the recipient of a PEN/Malamud Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Born in Santo Domingo, Díaz is a professor at MIT.
Eight of the collection’s nine stories center on Yunior, who shares some of his creator’s back story. Brought from the Dominican Republic as a kid by his father, he grows up uneasily in New Jersey, escaping the neighborhood career options of manual labor and drug dealing to become an academic and fiction writer. What Yunior can’t escape is what his mother and various girlfriends see as the Dominican man’s insatiable need to cheat. The narrative moves backward and forward in time, resisting the temptation to turn interconnected tales into a novel by default, but it has a depressingly unified theme: Over and over, a fiery woman walks when she learns Yunior can’t be true, and he pines fruitlessly over his loss. He’s got a lot of other baggage to deal with as well: His older brother Rafa dies of cancer; a flashback to the family’s arrival in the U.S. shows his father—who later runs off with another woman—to be a rigid, controlling, frequently brutal disciplinarian; and Yunior graduates from youthful drug use to severe health issues. These grim particulars are leavened by Díaz’s magnificent prose, an exuberant rendering of the driving rhythms and juicy Spanglish vocabulary of immigrant speech. Still, all that penitent machismo gets irksome, perhaps for the author as well, since the collection’s most moving story leaves Yunior behind for a female narrator. Yasmin works in the laundry of St. Peter’s Hospital in New Brunswick; her married lover has left his wife behind in Santo Domingo and plans to buy a house for him and Yasmin. Told in quiet, weary prose, “Otravida, Otra Vez” offers a counterpoint to Yunior’s turbulent wanderings with its gentle portrait of a woman quietly enduring as best she can. – Kirkus Reviews
Review: Junot Díaz on fire again in ‘This Is How You Lose Her’
The Chicago Tribune Book Review – September 9, 2012 (Excerpt)
In the age of e-books and Twitter novels, we old-fashioned, language-loving followers of literature can feel a bit glum. Gadgets seem to matter more than writers do.
Then a book like Junot Díaz’s lands in our laps, and we’re reminded of the acrobatic word wizardry that a true master can bring to the simple printed page.
Reading the stories in Díaz’s new collection, “This Is How You Lose Her,” is often a three-dimensional, laugh-out-loud experience. It’s the voice that transports you: erudite, Caribbean, bilingually foul-mouthed, channeling the assorted insanities of Dominicans, New Jerseyites and English professors.
You turn the pages and you are suddenly and vividly in this alternate American reality. All sorts of loquacious Caribbean types are pontificating, mourning and loving each other. Their raging, romantic spirit is so strong, it can out-duel a disease like the Big C.
“Dude had lost eighty pounds to the chemo, looked like a break-dancing ghoul,” Díaz writes, describing Rafa, the track-suit wearing serial seducer whose lust for life drives the story “The Pura Principle.” “But he prided himself on being the neighborhood lunatic, and he wasn’t going to let a little thing like cancer get in the way.” [Read the full article...]
‘This Is How You Lose Her,’ by Junot Díaz
The San Francisco Chronicle – September 10, 1012
More than a decade ago, Junot Díaz burst upon the reading world with “Drown,” a collection of 10 masterly stories. “Drown” won the PEN/Malamud Award for excellence in short fiction. It deserved the honor. The stories are linked – that is, persons and settings recur (Dominicans, sometimes on their native island but mostly in New Jersey), and preoccupations recur too: sharp eyes for the relative darkness of other people’s skin, a penchant for sexual betrayal, resentment of brutalizing jobs.
The language of “Drown” was something new to American letters – plainspeak laced with judicious use of Spanish (never hard to decipher from the context), and with slang, and with four-letter words (f- and s- mostly, but also some choice others). Deft metaphors fit comfortably into the mix, as did occasional high-flown phrases.
But “Drown” is more than stories about Dominicans adrift in the New World. Taken together, the tales resemble an old-fashioned British novel about families in a village. The reader gets to know the Dominican enclave in New Jersey: its apartments, its generational conflicts, its parties, its longings, its stubborn hopefulness, its habits of ruinous infidelity and promiscuity – Díaz’s characters have intercourse as frequently as Anthony Trollope’s have tea. The world described with such confidence and attentiveness enfolds us as closely as if it were Barsetshire. [Read the full article...]
Fidelity In Fiction: Junot Diaz Deconstructs A Cheater
NPR Book Review – September 11, 2012 (Excerpt)
Yunior grew up tough in a poor neighborhood. He’s Latino with African roots, an immigrant and a super nerdy kid who went on to teach at a university. He’s gruff and masculine, but he’s also an artist — as well as the creation of one.
Yunior is the protagonist of Junot Diaz’s first book of short stories, Drown, and the narrator of his prize-winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Now, both Yunior and Diaz are back with a new set of short stories calledThis Is How You Lose Her. It tracks Yunior’s struggles with fidelity, beginning with him cheating on his girlfriend and ending with him cheating on his fiancee with 50 different women.
Diaz tells NPR’s Steve Inskeep about the theme of his book and the real world circumstances that inspired it. [Read the full article...]
‘Lose Her’ Finds Power In Resonant Voices
NPR Book Review – September 13, 2012 (Excerpt)
Great fiction is built around characters that follow the fruitless and wrongheaded paths they’re offered, which is how readers savor safe passage into someone else’s impetuosity. Yunior, who first appeared in Junot Diaz’s debut collection, Drown, is the narrator in several of the stories in the Pulitzer Prize–winning author’s third book, This Is How You Lose Her. Yunior is now middle-aged, middle-class, a self-described sucio struggling to mature into adulthood and not succeeding particularly well. Most of the stories here dissect Yunior’s reckless behavior, and all of them feature characters with a ham-fisted approach to love. The collection deals in different brands of exile, self-imposed or cultural, by which people are forced to live the paradoxical condition of both needing and rejecting connection.
From a laundry facility supervisor and the freshly emigrated employee looking to grift her way into the American dream to a family negotiating the decline of a charismatic son’s health, each story is merciless in its treatment of the heart’s desires and defenses. [Read the full article...]
Acclimating to America, and to Women - ‘This Is How You Lose Her,’ by Junot Díaz
The New York Times Book Review – September 20, 2012 (Excerpt)
As his extraordinary 2007 novel “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” so exuberantly demonstrated, Junot Díaz has one of the most distinctive and magnetic voices in contemporary fiction: limber, streetwise, caffeinated and wonderfully eclectic, capable of conjuring for the reader everything from the sorrows of Dominican history to the banalities of life in New Jersey.
“Brief Wondrous Life” is, at once, a coming-of-age story; a family portrait; a meditation on the violent legacy of the Trujillo era of the Dominican Republic; a pop-culture, postmodern reflection on the fragmentation of history; and a haunting story about the allure and disappointments of the American dream. It is one of those amazingly inclusive books that seems to embrace everything the author knows, while his new collection of short stories, “This Is How You Lose Her,” is a miniaturist performance — a modest, musically structured riff that works variations on one main subject: a young Dominican man’s womanizing and its emotional fallout. [Read the full article...]
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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