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Drown Hardcover – August 8, 1996

4.3 out of 5 stars 239 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.

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; First Edition edition (August 8, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573220418
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573220415
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (239 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
This exceedingly strong debut collection of stories is set in the ghettos of the Dominican Republic and New Jersey, but most of all in the invisible psychic landscape of the immigrants who move from the first to the latter. Six of the ten stories here may be familiar to readers of The New Yorker, Story, or other well-regarded literary mags in whose pages they previously appeared. Díaz's stories offer grimly matter-of-fact accounts of harsh childhoods in harsh environments where fathers are either feared or absent and mothers are exhausted and resigned to their fate.
The stories set in the DR are from a youth's perspective, and have the unmistakable whiff of the autobiographical about them. In "Ysrael", the narrator and his brother are sent to the campo for the summer to live with relatives. There, they are casually cruel to a local boy whose face was disfigured by a pig. The boy later turns up as the subject of "No Face", which attempts to delve into his mind, with lesser effect than almost all the other stories. A third story, "Arguantando" follows the family from "Ysrael" as they wait to hear from their father, who has moved to the US. The final and longest story in the collection, "Negocios", explains the father's journey to the US and his many trials and tribulations before he can bring his family over.
The stories set in the US follow the young boy as he grows older in New Jersey-where shoplifting, drug dealing, and eventually work replace the poverty of the slums of Santa Domingo. "Fiesta, 1980" is the best car-sickness story you're likely to read and "How To Date" is a quick guide to interracial dating, perhaps overly flip when compared to the other stories. In "Aurora", a teenage drug dealer (the young boy grown older?
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Format: Paperback
Junot Diaz writes fiction without flourish. His words are stark, edgy, direct - and his stories cut through stereotype right to the quick of the truth. DROWN pulses with the rhythms of Spanish and New Jersey accents as it explores lives in both The Dominican Republic and Jersey City. Mostly adolescents and young adults, the characters struggle against a dimming or obscured future, and tend to live for the moment, even as they hope for something better. The most compelling stories are "Ysrael," "Aurora," "Edison, New Jersey," and "How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie." This is a brief book, only ten stories and only a few over 20 pages long, but it packs power with its brevity.

I highly recommend this book for those with an interest in Latino and/or multicultural fiction, and for those who enjoy short story collections.
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Format: Paperback
This explosive collection of ten amazing stories vividly chronicling the Dominican immigrant experience is starkly realistic and daring. The stories are not necessarily pleasant, but are certainly captivating tales of the resilience of the human soul and of the will to survive in the face of horrendous odds. Diaz is intense and powerful, yet he possesses what I personally find to be a calculated calm in his mesmerizing prose. Moreover, he is totally unapologetic ---and that's a plus. I thoroughly enjoyed every piece in this stunning collection. Junot Diaz is at the top of my list. You are missing a rare literary experience if you fail to read him.
Very Highly Recommended !
Alan Cambeira
Author of AZUCAR! The Story of Sugar (a novel)
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Format: Paperback
Junot Diaz's extraodinary wit is easily introduced by making it past the first of stories in his book, Drown. You are immediately taken aback by his unconventional, laidback yet intricate string of thoughts. He is able to capture the crude reality as well as the raw ackardness of adolescence in an engaging series of stories. Having been born and raised in the Dominican Republic myself I easily related to Junot's transition from there to America. The familiarity and uniqueness of each small detail from his early days in the "campo" to urban living were significant and outsatnding to me. Yet Junot manages to keep the person most unfamiliar with any urban or foreign experience, or with Dominican slang for that matter, engaged and wanting more. I truly did not expect to find such whimsical and yet truthful documetation. Proving to be somewhat of a classic manchild's unconventional memoir, Mr.Diaz has the power to make you chew the truth and savour it. This is a subtle celebration of manhood disguised as a collection of entertaining snippets in the life of a true hero for the multicultural fascination in America today; a celebration which is not frilly, nor pretty, but entertaining and fascinating. Who knew emotion could be expressed in poetic discretion ? You'll be reading this one over and over. Trust me I've drowned on it several times already and am looking forward to my next dive.
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Format: Paperback
Before I purchased the book I read an on-line interview of Diaz by Edwidge Danticat. In this interview Diaz said that he didn't like it too much when readers thought that the book was autobiographical in nature. In the sense that it meant he wasn't creative enough to write pure fiction. I have to admit that half way through the book I thought that it must be part autobiography because the stories were so personal and the emotions bare and exposed. My favorite is "Aurora". Readers who expected romanticized Latina writing might be disappointed, but that is really just too bad. Diaz' style is authentic, modern, and edgy. On a personal level, it gave me a glimpse of daily life on the other side of my island. I absolutely loved this book and I recommend it whole-heartedly.
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