Junot Díaz burst into the literary world with Drown, a collection of indelible stories that revealed a major new writer with the "eye of a journalist and the tongue of a poet" (Newsweek). His eagerly awaited first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, arrived like a thunderclap, topping best-of-the-year lists and winning a host of major awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. Now Díaz turns his prodigious talent to the haunting, impossible power of love.
The stories in This Is How You Lose Her, by turns hilarious and devastating, raucous and tender, lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weaknesses of our all-too-human hearts. They capture the heat of new passion, the recklessness with which we betray what we most treasure, and the torture we go through - "the begging, the crawling over glass, the crying" - to try to mend what we've broken beyond repair. They recall the echoes that intimacy leaves behind, even where we thought we did not care. They teach us the catechism of affections: that the faithlessness of the fathers is visited upon the children; that what we do unto our exes is inevitably done in turn unto us; and that loving thy neighbor as thyself is a commandment more safely honored on platonic than erotic terms. Most of all, these stories remind us that the habit of passion always triumphs over experience, and that "love, when it hits us for real, has a half-life of forever."
Your girl catches you cheating. (Well, actually she's your fiancée, but hey, in a bit it so won't matter.) She could have caught you with one sucia, she could have caught you with two, but as you're a totally batshit cuero who didn't ever empty his email trash can, she caught you with fifty! Sure, over a six-year period, but still. Fifty fucking girls? Goddamn. Maybe if you'd been engaged to a super open-minded blanquita you could have survived it - but you're not engaged to a super openminded blanquita. Your girl is a badass salcedeña who doesn't believe in open anything; in fact the one thing she warned you about, that she swore she would never forgive, was cheating. I'll put a machete in you, she promised. And of course you swore you wouldn't do it. You swore you wouldn't. You swore you wouldn't.
And you did.
She'll stick around for a few months because you dated for a long long time. Because you went through much together - her father's death, your tenure ...
...[I]t is to Díaz's enormous credit that Yunior and his coterie are so human, so absolutely lovable that you forgive their misdeeds. These are not people you might run into everyday, but Díaz's expert touch makes them pop and come alive. Great literature transcends plot and gives us a peek into the human condition. That is precisely what Díaz achieves to dazzling effect. He uses these broken love stories as the medium through which he addresses weightier themes.
(Reviewed by Poornima Apte).
Full Review (935 words).
Junot Díaz's characters have a strong link back to their home country, the Dominican Republic, as they make northern New Jersey (aka North Jersey) their new home. These Dominican-American communities have a strong presence in Díaz's writing, even if specific cities or neighborhoods are not always referred to by name. Due to the same socio-economic factors that affect his characters - the jobs they find, the homes they live in - the real-life demographics of New Jersey are starting to shift.
According to an article in the New York Times that reported statistics from the 2010 US Census, the non-Hispanic white population in the state decreased by over 300,000 to approximately 5.2 million, which researcher Tim Evans says ...
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