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'Drown' by Junot Díaz

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

What can one say about Junot Díaz?

Drown is the second body of work I've read by Díaz, after This Is How You Lose Her, which, dear reader, was mesmerizing. Drown is also a collection of short stories, their settings spanning from Santo Domingo to New Jersey.

We meet a narrator, Yunior (a recurring character in Díaz's work), and his brother, Rafa, dirt poor in a village in the Dominican Republic, getting up to no good. We meet an older Yunior, now a drug-dealing teen, hiding away from an old friend. And in between, we see the struggle of immigrants in America, the toll that drug abuse takes on friendships, the foolishness that young love can be, the heartache experienced by a family abandoned by a husband and father.

My favourite story in the collection is Negocios, a semi-autobiographical account (told from Díaz's father's perspective) about his tumultuous adaptation to American life, which began with his arrival in Miami and ended with two estranged families in Nueva York.

Safe to say, Junot is one of my all-time faves. His writing is witty, funny, and poignant. What is there not to love?

(One of my) favourite quote(s) from the book:

"We lived south of the Cementerio Nacional in a wood-frame house with three rooms. We were poor. The only way we could have been poorer was to have lived in the campo or to have been Haitian immigrants, and Mami regularly offered these to us as brutal consolation. At least you're not in the campo. You'd eat rocks then."
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