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Author: Junot Díaz
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Junot Díaz shoots straight from the hip; swear words and sad lives and all. The people in his stories drink, they smoke weed until they can’t feel anything, they sleep with “putas”—careful to note their ethnicity and the shape of their bodies.
Yunior, the young Dominican guy that keeps popping up across this short story collection, is ill-fated and ill-fitted for the life he’s been given. Spread amid a scattering of different tales concerning Dominican existence in the US, Díaz chronicles Yunior’s desperate romances (if romance is the right word) over his early years, with merciless details of his pride, his selfishness, and his self-loathing. You can’t believe anyone could bear to live for long in such a tragedy—a life defined by frustration. I wonder if any of this is autobiographical? But I didn’t bother googling it.
I think you need to just sit in your response to this work for a while. Tell yourself no one really lives that way, it’s just a story, people have more hope than that. Which is true—Díaz has a sort of restricted perspective which is unique to his personality, like every author—but that doesn’t mean he’s alone. His characters feel real. And, incidentally, he’s been glorified by the New York literary types, specifically the New York Times’ critic Michiko Kakutani. His work resonates with them, at least, which proves something.
This Is How You Lose Her is a searing, disorienting account of a broken community in America; a Dominican diaspora unhinged, unstable, unseen that lies in the dark shadows of the American dream.
Read if you want to face a harsh reality, or if you love a fresh modern voice, or if you’re a bit of a dick and want some literary company, because Yunior is the guy behind that depressing relationship story that every girl has in her back pocket.