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Drown [Paperback]

Junot Diaz
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (183 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

With ten stories that move from the barrios of the Dominican Republic to the struggling urban communities of New Jersey, Junot Diaz makes his remarkable debut. Diaz's work is unflinching and strong, and these stories crackle with an electric sense of discovery. Diaz evokes a world in which fathers are gone, mothers fight with grim determination for their families and themselves, and the next generation inherits the casual cruelty, devestating ambivalence, and knowing humor of lives circumscribed by poverty and uncertainty. In Drown, Diaz has harnessed the rhythms of anger and release, frustration and joy, to indelible effect. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The 10 tales in this intense debut collection plunge us into the emotional lives of people redefining their American identity. Narrated by adolescent Dominican males living in the struggling communities of the Dominican Republic, New York and New Jersey, these stories chronicle their outwardly cool but inwardly anguished attempts to recreate themselves in the midst of eroding family structures and their own burgeoning sexuality. The best pieces, such as "Aguantando" (to endure), "Negocios," "Edison, NJ" and the title story, portray young people waiting for transformation, waiting to belong. Their worlds generally consist of absent fathers, silent mothers and friends of questionable principles and morals. Diaz's restrained prose reveals their hopes only by implication. It's a style suited to these characters, who long for love but display little affection toward each other. Still, the author's compassion glides just below the surface, occasionally emerging in poetic passages of controlled lyricism, lending these stories a lasting resonance. BOMC and QPB alternates; foreign rights sold in Holland, Norway, Sweden, the U.K., Spain, France and Germany. (Sept.) FYI: Diaz was the only writer chosen by Newsweek as one of the 10 "New Faces of 1996." Drown is a nominee for the 1997 QPB "New Voices" award. "Ysrael" will be included in Best American Short Stories 1996 and "Edison, NJ" will appear in the summer 1996 issue of the Paris Review. Riverhead will publish Diaz's novel, The Cheater's Guide to Love, in 1997.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Diaz has received much pre-publication praise and publicity for this, his first collection, of short stories. Set in his native Dominican Republic or in the Dominican neighborhoods of New Jersey, these stories focus on the carnal aspect of human nature. They graphically depict lives defined by poverty and the cynicism and hardness that can develop from it; the complex nature of relationships, both among peers and within families; and the desperation of those who are enslaved by the American drug culture. Diaz's writing is at times somewhat strained, but he provides convincing portraits of characters attempting to cope with lives which provide them with few advantages and much pain. Recommended for academic libraries.?Rebecca Stuhr-Rommereim, Grinnell Coll. Libs., Ia.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

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. Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

D¡az's first collection of ten stories, some having appeared in the New Yorker and Story, is certain to draw attention for its gritty view of life in the barrios of the Dominican Republic and rough neighborhoods of urban New Jersey. Most of the stories are linked by their narrator, who spent his first nine years in the D.R., until his father in the States brought the entire family to South Jersey, where he continued to display the survivalist machismo he developed during years of poverty, scamming, and struggle. In the Caribbean pieces, D¡az offers a boy's-eye view of a hardscrabble life. In ``Ysrael,'' the narrator and his brother, sent to the countryside during the summer, plot to unmask a local oddity, a boy whose face was eaten off by a pig in his youth. Much later in the volume, ``No Face'' reappears, surviving the taunts of the locals as he waits for his trip to America, where surgeons will work on his face. ``Arguantando'' documents life in the barrio, where the narrator, his brother, and his mother eke out an existence while hearing nothing from the father. ``Negocios'' explains why: Robbed of his savings in the US, the father schemes to marry a citizen in order to become one himself, all the time thinking of his family back home. He is hardly a saint, and, reunited in New Jersey, the family is dominated by his violent temper. ``Fiesta, 1980'' recalls the narrator's bouts of car sickness, for which his father shows no sympathy. In the remaining tales, a teenaged Dominican drug dealer in New Jersey dreams of a normal life with his crackhead girlfriend (``Aurora''); a high-school dealer is disturbed by his best friend's homosexuality (``Drown''); and ``How to Date . . .'' is a fractured handbook on the subtleties of interracial dating. D¡az's spare style and narrative poise make for some disturbing fiction, full of casual violence and indifferent morality. A debut calculated to raise some eyebrows. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

. . .Junot Diaz has been hyped as the next young gun of American fiction. -- Salon, Robert Spillman

Junot Diaz is a major new writer. His world explodes off the page into the canon of our literature and our hearts. -- Walter Mosley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Drown; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award. A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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