This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
Riverhead • $26.95 • ISBN 9781594487361
On sale September 11, 2012
Junot Díaz won the Pulitzer (and a pile of other awards) for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, but I’ve always been all about Drown, his first collection of short stories and the book that singled him out as the most promising literary voice of the Dominican-American community. As much as the world recognizes him as a genius novelist, I have to say that when I heard the third book from Díaz would be a collection of short stories, I could barely contain myself. Victory for the short story!
Five years after Oscar Wao and 16 after Drown, Díaz didn’t disappoint. The stories explore the strengths and failings of Dominican-American love and relationships, from cheating men to struggling immigrant families. Readers will recognize bullheaded Yunior, who first made an appearance in Drown and is a recurring protagonist in This Is How You Lose Her, as well as other characters like Yunior’s brother Rafa.
One of my favorite stories from the collection, “Otravida, Otravez,” does not star Yunior or any of his girlfriends, but rather a young Dominican couple trying to put down roots in the U.S. An excerpt is below:
“While he sits by the window and smokes I pull the last letter his wife wrote to him out of my purse and open it in front of him. He doesn’t know how brazen I can be. One sheet, smelling of violet water. Please, Virta has written neatly at the center of the page. That’s all. I smile at Ramón and place the letter back in the envelope.
Ana Iris once asked me if I loved him and I told her about the lights in my old home in the capital, how they flickered and you never knew if they would go out or not. You put down your things and you waited and couldn’t do anything really until the lights decided. This, I told her, is how I feel.”
Keep an eye open for an interview with Junot Díaz for This Is How You Lose Her in our September issue!