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by Junot Díaz

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Penguin Publishing Group
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5.14(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.64(d)
830L (what's this?)
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18 Years


"This stunning collection of stories offers an unsentimental glimpse of life among the immigrants from the Dominican Republic—and other front-line reports on the ambivalent promise of the American dream—by an eloquent and original writer who describes more than physical dislocation in conveying the price that is paid for leaving culture and homeland behind." —San Francisco Chronicle.

Junot Diaz's stories are as vibrant, tough, unexotic, and beautiful as their settings - Santa Domingo, Dominican Neuva York, the immigrant neighborhoods of industrial New Jersey with their gorgeously polluted skyscapes. Places and voices new to our literature yet classically American: coming-of-age stories full of wild humor, intelligence, rage, and piercing tenderness. And this is just the beginning. Diaz is going to be a giant of American prose. —Francisco Goldman

Ever since Diaz began publishing short stories in venues as prestigious as The New Yorker, he has been touted as a major new talent, and his debut collection affirms this claim. Born and raised in Santo Domingo, Diaz uses the contrast between his island homeland and life in New York City and New Jersey as a fulcrum for his trenchant tales. His young male narrators are teetering into precarious adolescence. For these sons of harsh or absent fathers and bone-weary, stoic mothers, life is an unrelenting hustle. In Santo Domingo, they are sent to stay with relatives when the food runs out at home; in the States, shoplifting and drugdealing supply material necessities and a bit of a thrill in an otherwise exhausting and frustrating existence. There is little affection, sex is destructive, conversation strained, and even the brilliant beauty of a sunset is tainted, its colors the product of pollutants. Keep your eye on Diaz; his first novel is on the way. —Booklist

Editorial Reviews

Robert Spillman

With recent stories in The New Yorker, The Paris Review and "Best American Stories," Junot Diaz has been hyped as the next young gun of American fiction. With his bare-knuckled prose ("That's the way it is. They built these barrios out of bad luck and you got to get used to that.") and tough, grim settings, Diaz works the same emotional landscape as early Jerzy Kosinski and Thom Jones. And like Jones and Kosinski, Diaz's work mainly consists of thinly veiled autobiography.

The 10 stories in "Drown" tell of his impoverished, fatherless youth in the Dominican Republic and his struggle with immigrant life in New Jersey. Diaz has a precise eye for pain, rendering the suffering of the dispossessed with clinical accuracy. In the stories "Ysrael" and "No Face," Diaz tells of a boy whose face has been horribly disfigured by a pig and how he is tormented by the kids of the village. But Diaz also has a wry touch, as in "How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie," where the teenage narrator living in the projects gives a lesson in how to get laid by any kind of girl: "Dinner will be tense... A halfie will tell you that her parents met in the Movement... Your brother once heard that one and said, 'Man, that sounds like a whole lot of Uncle Tomming to me.' Don't repeat this."

The last story, "Negocios," points up this collection's one weakness. It is a chronicle of his father's immigration, remarriage and, finally, the rescuing of his children and first wife from their bleak life in the Dominican Republic. While the language, images and characters are well drawn, there's little sense of fiction -- little of the depth and breadth of Kosinski or Jones. These stories don't read like stories, but more like sociology or reportage, like firsthand New Yorker pieces of old. Diaz expertly captures the rage and alienation of the Dominican immigrant experience, but it will be interesting to see what he does if he turns his talent and indignation to true fiction. -- Salon

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