Read Drown by Junot Díaz Online


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 themsWith 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, devastating 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....

Title : Drown
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781573226066
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 208 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Drown Reviews

  • Paul Bryant
    2019-03-13 08:38

    As when you're listening to some old piece of music you never thought much of, it could be a long ago seemingly throwaway pop dance number like This Old Heart of Mine by the Isley Brothers, or some slyer more college-degreed album track like (let's say) Life During Wartime by Talking Heads, and you suddenly jump up and think but - but really, this is a masterpiece! - it's not just another painting-by-numbers from Motown, it's not just another sneery too-clever construction you skip while you're trying to find Once in a Lifetime, Juno Diaz' tales from the front line of squalour and immigration aren't just another vicarious thrillseeking tour of Poverty-and-Ignorance Hell, not just another wound-baring stigmata-showing howl from yet more people from yet another abyss you wish you didn't know about. They're that too, just like This Old Heart of Mine is a great dance number, but there's this thing called an authentic voice, or whatever the term is. Now this is a thing you can't buy with money. It's where no one but this particular author would know how to describe this person or that circumstance, this pain or that crime, the unique inside the generic. A twist of brain and language, and eyes and heart and blood wrapped round it too. Junot Diaz is the author, Drown is the book. The best story is the last and longest, but only because of what went before. Gloomily overhanging the earlier tales of kids trying to grow up in the Dominican Republic like a cloud full of bad rain is the father who left for America, who never came back, and who stopped sending money, and who never sent for his family to join him. What a shit! We get used to the banal outrage of not knowing what this useless fool did when he got there, what was his big fat excuse, how could he abandon his wife and kids, etc etc so that there's a real frisson when we discover that the last 47 pages will answer all these questions, and in a great reversal of perspective, you find yourself looking out of this bad man's face, sleeping in his cockroach rooms and working his 16 hour shifts and against your whole will, you understand. Great stuff, and not one wasted word.

  • Myfanwy
    2019-02-28 07:05

    There are several recurrent themes running through this collection (the lost father, the regained father, the lost love, brotherhood, betrayal--often sexual) but the one I found most striking was that of facelessness. You would think that facelessness is synonymous with invisibility, but here it is not. There is something within that facelessness, which makes the person all the more visible--scorned, pitied, hated, feared, and by some, treated with great kindness. The faced want the faceless to be gone for good because they represent the worst fear: That you, too, might one day suffer this fate where all that defines you to the outside world is stripped away, where you are a stranger in a strange land--where you are unloved and unlovable. "Ysrael" is the boy with no face, his face having been mostly chewed off by a pig when he was an infant. Because of this he wears a mask and awaits a humanitarian intervention in which doctors in Canada are meant to restore his face. But this day never seems to come and he is scorned and beaten, but he is also an object of intense interest. There is something about him that fascinates the other boys; if only they could just see behind his mask. But even when they do, it infuriates them, repulses them. There is nothing in seeing his face that makes them feel better about themselves. It only makes them feel worse, more powerless. Then when the reader sees the world from his point of view in "No Face," we understand that though he is deformed and maligned there is still great hope and beauty in his world, though he might not realize it. There is something strong deep within that will keep him alive despite the obstacles. He is a survivor. He will run. So Ysrael stands for the best hope of all of the faceless within these stories--and the message is to keep going, keep running, keep moving forward no matter how people will push you down and try to keep you from being seen. In that, a book, which might otherwise be bleak, I found quite hopeful. And so, in the end, what you have is a collection of stories that are beautiful, necessary, and heartbreaking. Read it.

  • Fabian
    2019-02-28 03:01

    Yeah, yeah, once you get the Pulitzer your earlier works may be scavenged & retold and republished and possibly (if you ARE the literatti:) re-read.This is my first foray into the infamous short story terrain animated by Junot Diaz. Yes- his first novel was outstanding, and just its level of genius is constantly debated: everyone is aware it's really f***in' good."Drown" is endearing. An autobiography of ten short stories that are exquisite maps into the writer's early life in the D.R. and in America. Junot Diaz is the latino equivalent of David Sedaris. Each one of his vignettes is a colorful & juicy morsel: word association: Starburst candy. While his story is his own, Diaz asks you to empathize with him and relate. This is extremely doable.I am aware that Junot Diaz is a super competent storyteller, but he does subscribe to this Dominican Man attitudes toward women and about how owning things (including, well, women) makes you a man. He endorses this mysogynistic attitude but he is more like a mirror in this way--extremely unapologetic and still personal.Highlight: the first tale is harsh and sad. The protagonist is evil and behaves contrary to how a hero usually performs. But the penultimate story revisits the little boy from the first, "No Face", (1/5th of the book is about the little disfigured boy, and you know the weight of this in the author's psyche) and at this moment you see magic materialize: a writer's guilt leads to some true immortal form (the best type, in my opinion,) of atonement.

  • Aubrey
    2019-02-20 09:52

    There's this white boy in the class that assigned this collection taking pot shots at it for misogyny, which is real easy when you're white and male and your eyes glaze over how deeply white girls and their white skin and their white features inspire both veneration and self-hatred. Objectification, to an extent, but when white's the standard of beauty and safety and the Dominican Republic's the name of the game, either you talk imperialism and intercommunity issues or you're just another colonial savior brat looking to save the brown women from the brown men in the name of divide and conquer. Besides, the gynephobic violence might be there, but I've read enough works that glorify that sort of shit to know Díaz isn't doing the same. The main short story cycle character Yunior doesn't go around blubbering at all the bad things he sees, but he does take it in without self-reflexive excuses or the defensive bravado so commonly known as masculinity. It's harder for me to poke at, as neither gender nor race are a common factor between me and him, but the normalization of hatred of women in literature leaves a bad taste that this particular collection did not spawn, so of course I have to peer at this result and wonder why.I'm glad I didn't follow the class itinerary of reading only six or so of the ten, cause the nice and neat line of the beginning story and the titular story and the ending "this is what it's sorta all about" story is perfect for an MFA program and horrible for actually getting a sense of what is going on. Proust in the time of race and heroine. Sentiment in the time of the death of English dominance and the rise of destabilization of the canon. The homeland's death, the way out's denigration, the destination might be life but there's way too many white supremacist slags running things for it to be anything other than a capitalistic jumpstart and/or deathtrap. Emotional bonds are a pain. Sexuality's a pain. The acrid freedom of individuals in the US is on one hand the collective familial unit of man of the household Dominican Republic is on the other, and both will never be an option so long as gringa serves a conceptual purpose of sociopolitical self-defense. If you're like me, a member of a white family stronghold living in the US, at one point in your life you hated these people. You loathed them. Never mind the billionaires buying up the legislation for fucking up those countries south of the border and the Gulf of Mexico even more, there's an immigrant who only speaks Spanish fifty feet away. Yeah it's a pain when people all over the world are headed towards your door, but that's what you get for always winning, always killing, always conquering, all over the world. All the time.It's a mess, and I'm not going to say I adored the abusive relationship of this collection's "Aurora", but you don't boil anything down to a single issue and flip it off accordingly. You can if that one thing inspires enough virulent disgust, but not before running through all the context first. In my case, there's a Dominican-American kid with a heart rocketing around these gritty and lovelocked pages, so this is not the kind of player on which I can lay the blame of the game.

  • Jason
    2019-03-17 09:39

    I can't do it. I can't listen to books on tape. Listening to tapes allows me one opportunity--one time only--to experience the writing. That's not my paradigm. It's not the way I've grown to experience books. I need to look at the physical words--they mean something. I need to reread sentences and paragraphs. I need to touch pages and manipulate the weight and rectilinear dimensions of the book. I need to interpret and define and orient and catalog the story into my own retrievable cranial network. I need to stop and think about what I just read. I need to see my progress through the book, the dogeared pages. I need to reference an earlier exchange of dialogue. I need to put the book down and figure out which of the characters in my life most closely represent the characters I'm reading in the book. Those are the kinds of connections, fiction to real life, in situ, that I've been doing since I began reading Hardy Boy mysteries at the age of 10. It's how my brain has worked since I was begat. And then, all those connections (both conscious and synaptic), and curious definitions, and mental images get all mixed together in the gray matter, and out through my mouth and typing fingers, comes a rather normal human perspective of a book that I can then talk about with others. Your reading experience, I suspect, occurs in a similar manner.But not with books on tape. And not for me. After a 14 hour driving trip listening to Drown, I'm not prepared to write a review. Somebody else read this book; I merely heard it. It was their voice and their intonation and their glottalizations and their cuss words. Not mine. It was not my experience. I can no more write reviews of movies for the same reason. I don't have a relationship to the physicality of a DVD. I don't understand why I can listen to a lecture (or a performance or music or see a painting) and retain the information I need, but I cannot have books read to me. Please explain. It's a phenomenon I can't figure out.Drown sounded like a decent book, but I can't be sure. In the same obsessive compulsive way that I have to check the door to ensure it's locked instead of trusting you to have locked it correctly, I need to read a book, not have you read it to me. Reading is MY time; it's not OUR time.Story, story, story,Does that vanity plate really say 'DUMP'...?...oh, story, story, story,Damn, I just dropped a handful of sunflower seeds, did they get into the......oh, story, story, story,Why don't you drive, and pass me, and stop staring so long......oh, story, story, story,Exit 264, was that the exit with the cheapest gas last time...?...oh, story, story, story,So, 270 more miles at 70 mph will/should get me there by......oh, story, story, story,An RV towing a boat towing a jeep with 5 bicycles on a rear rack; man, if that thing rolled......oh, story, story, story,I gotta pee......oh, story, story, story.I abstain from writing a review until I can read this book. So, in the meantime, I default to an irresolute 3 stars.

  • Stace
    2019-03-17 06:40

    I was lucky enough to have seen Junot Diaz read, and that cabròn was hilarious! His talk was fresh, lewd, direct, sly, sweet, and honest. Exactly like his writing. He spoke of how Hip Hop had informed his life and work, and how a writer must use experience to shape their art; auto-biography and fiction helix together. His street talk and easy manner reminded me of the slick Mexican kids I grew up with(with due respect for the differences in Latino cultures). No amount of vernacular speech could front on the fact that he’s an insightful and sensitive academic however, which is again mirrored in his writing.“Drown” depicts poverty and struggle in a matter of fact way. It doesn’t inspire pity or admiration, it’s neither saccharine nor acrid; but there are moments of each of these things.To be able to describe finding a pair of jeans with the pockets turned out in a search for whatever by an addict semi-exgirlfriend, and making it sound sort of cute is masterful. The leaky-roofed, chronically hungry, parasite infested childhood sounds almost fun, but yet, you can tell that it isn’t. The strangest combination of flavors in the book is the pride/respect/disdain that is held for a father that abandoned his family in the DR for years while farting around up in the US. Because of the archetypical nature of these stories it felt like a wild biography, and I had to remind myself that they were only stories. His writing style, once again very much like his speech, was clear and easy, if a little unconventional, and I had to backpedal here or there to get the gist. Mostly though it flowed so smoothly I was done with it before I realized. A great read.

  • Malbadeen
    2019-03-20 08:45

    The cursor keeps blinking at me, daring me to try and convey the magnitude of love I have for Diaz's writing but I can't...I'm a failure! Every story needs is filled with sentences/dialogue that are gaspably good. My fovorite sentence in the collection is from the story, How To Date a Brown Girl, Black Girl, White Girl or Halfie. It is as follows:"Run a hand through your hair, like the white boys do, even though the only thing that runs easily through your hair is Africa".See what I mean?!

  • Mattia Ravasi
    2019-03-05 04:55

    Video-review: of cultures clashing and life sucking between the Dominican Republic and New Jersey. The stories are hard-hitting and Diaz writes like a motherfucker - almost too well for a project so simple.

  • Ana Rînceanu
    2019-02-20 09:46

    This book is made out of short stories, but they all explore Yunior's experience as a Dominican Republic immigrant, his relationship with his family, the idea of masculinity, race and women. The writing makes this book stand out, Yunior's life being a fairly average one. It just sticks with you and pops in my head unexpectedly. It's not plot heavy, but focuses on the main character and how he interacts with others.I like how the events are not portrayed in order, because the author uses this to get us to sympathize with Yunior's pain so that, when we find out that often times he is complicit in the outcome, we still can't hate or dismiss him. I like to compare Ysrael ("he who struggles with God") and Yunior (son struggling with his father's legacy).It's a little silly to rate them individually since they are too connected, but out of force of habit, I did it. "Ysrael" - two brothers are on a mission to unmask Ysrael, who was attacked by a pig as a child; set in the Dominican Republic (3 stars)"Fiesta, 1980" - a son questioning how his father's affair will affect the family reunion; set in the United States (3 stars)"Aurora" - a drug dealer can't forget his drug addicted ex-girlfriend; set in the United States (3 stars)"Aguantando" - scenes depicting family life before the father comes back into their lives; set in the Dominican Republic (4 stars)"Drown" - Yunior's best friend comes back from college and Yunior avoids him; set in the United States (4 stars)"Boyfriend" - Yunior handles the aftermath of his break-up while his neighbors are also breaking up; set in the United States (4 stars)"Edison, New Jersey" - new job and ex-girlfriend story; set in the United States (3 stars)"How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie" - how to bring over girls you won't see again; set in the United States (3 stars)"No Face" - how Ysrael handles the world; set in the Dominican Republic (3 stars)"Negocios" - Yunior's father's imigration story and his messy family life; set in the United States (3 stars)

  • Madeline
    2019-03-16 08:58

    Ten short stories about growing up first in the Dominican Republic and then New Jersey. It reminded me a litte of Sherman Alexie's stories, albeit a little less poetic. But still very well done. We discussed "How To Date A Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie" at particular length in my fiction writing class, so I'll quote one of my favorite bits from that story: "Clear the government cheese from the refrigerator. If the girl's from the Terrace stack the boxes behind the milk. If she's from the Park or Society Hill hide the cheese in the cabinet above the oven, way up where she'll never see. Leave yourself a reminder to get it out before morning or your moms will kick your ass. Take down any embarrassing photos of your family in the campo, especially the one with the half-naked kids dragging a goat on a rope leash. The kids are your cousins and by now they're old enough to understand why you're doing what you're doing." Junot Diaz was one of the guests at my college's writers' festival, and I got to hear him read from The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao. The man is hilarious and if you ever get a chance to see him do a reading, for god's sake go. The best part was the question-and-answer session at the end. Someone asked him a really complicated question about his writing process or something, and he spent a minute trying to think of a way to answer that, and then he just laughed and said, "I don't know. Um...fuck, you guys!" It was great. Read for: Intro to Creative Writing

  • Matt Eckel
    2019-03-14 01:59

    One of the coolest things that ever happened to me was I got to participate in a creative writing workshop with Junot Diaz. My girlfriend was in the class also, which was the first time we had a class together. We had been living together for a little while, and even though we were very much in love at the time, whe would do certain shit that really got on my nerves, like for example always being late (as in over an hour late!) for everything. So on the first day of class, she came in (predictably) late, and he said something, I forget what, and made her cry. I remember being bummed because I was going to have to deal with the emotional fallout of this after class, but at the same time vindicated, because he finally said what I never had the guys to say.My favorite memories of Junot are of him pleading with students to see a particular point of view, to demonstate it, cries of exultation when they did, his cursing, frustrated stammering, or a telling smile and tilt of the head while he was waiting for someone to finish saying something really stupid. To him, writing was as alive as the most current trend in street art, and that energy was -- out of all his lessons -- the one I took to heart the most.I taught several of the stories from "Drown" in my 10th and 11th grade English classes over at Garfield, and remember them as being some of the more successful experients I undertook while working there. Although they're all connected (and I think "Fiesta, 1980" is the one for which he won the most honors), the story "Ysrael" is my favorite.

  • Tony
    2019-03-05 06:45

    I shelve my fiction alphabetized by author’s last name, each author’s works further displayed in chronological publishing order. Presidential biographies start with Washington and travel in order to Obama. Histories stands pretty much as they occurred. Not exactly OCD, but the nuns can certainly be proud of the order they instilled. So I can’t explain why, when I open a book of short stories for the first time, I do not read them in order. I jumped around here, although I did read the final story last. Book closed, I think I would have been better served reading the stories in the order presented. Like Olive Kitteridge, these stories share characters and a family history. They must certainly be semi-autobiographical. They span locations: ‘Nueva York’ and the Dominican. And mostly they are in the voice of ‘Yunior’, a young boy with very wide eyes and ears. The language is hip but nevertheless restrained, almost minimalist. The lessons, though, are hardly unique: wounds of childhood, searching for some toehold, loss, fathers and sons. Such a different life told here, and yet I recognized, felt, the shame, the hope, things I can safely predict will eventually wake Diaz in the middle of the night, the wonder of it all.So up you go, between Pete Dexter and Isak Dinesen, right before your later The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. For no good or special reason. Just because as things unravel, I will know where to find you.Thanks once again to Goodreads Giveaways. Love winning free books.

  • mark monday
    2019-03-02 07:40

    read during my Punk Rock Flophouse YearsI Remember: linked stories about growing up in the Dominican Republic and then New Jersey... a writing style that is rather tight, clean, stripped-down, deadpan... i would have preferred a looser, rowdier writing style... a narrative that is alive and fresh, with scenes that should jump off the page, and sometimes do... feels real... some surprising charm, many laugh-out-loud moments... and yet it feels somehow minor note - i guess that's life... oh no, am i getting a little bored now?... ah well, it is still a worthy effort.

  • Maxwell
    2019-03-15 10:06

    4.5 starsI'm really amazed at Junot Diaz's ability to create such a richly imagined and realistic history of a fictional character. Yunior, the central character of most, if not all, of these short stories, appears in Diaz's other works, This Is How You Lose Her and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I think this shows remarkable skill for a debut collection, and to have all this story built up in his mind that flows over into his other works is amazing.I definitely recommend starting with this collection if you are looking into reading anything by Junot Diaz.

  • Lisa
    2019-03-01 07:41

    These stories - about Yunior and his family in the Dominican Republic and New Jersey are so, so good. In a shattering, explosive way. Now that I've read his three books, I just hope Diaz publishes another novel or short story collection soon.

  • Bart
    2019-03-16 09:48

    If you haven’t already read this book, there’s really no need. Most of its best parts are recycled in Oscar Wao. A man without a face, people shuffling between Santo Domingo and New Jersey, some early experimenting in Junot Diaz’s “original voice”.The toughest part of reading Diaz is trying not to put his critics’ opinions in front of Diaz’s words. Trying to separate Diaz’s at-times honest efforts from the hysterical effect they have on certain literary types is hard sledding. It’s not fair to the author to hold others’ inanities against him – except when it feels like’s he’s writing for a focus group. There’s more of that in Oscar Wao than in Drown, but Oscar Wao casts a cynical eye backwards onto Drown.In this book, Diaz contents himself with being the voice of the Dominican Republic. In Oscar Wao, he’s the voice of Latinos everywhere. That makes this book a somewhat more honest, if less refined, effort.Much of Diaz’s success – like most writers’ success – returns, in some part, to good fortune and timing. Diaz wrote Drown at a time when the conversion from literature to cultural commentary was revving up. Who better to marry the two than a talented writer of Dominican roots who told the literary establishment what others were afraid to say? I guess.Since being a Dominican is what’s most important to Diaz – he does very little with the human condition, otherwise – one should probably rejoice a bit about the circumstances that brought Drown to the public. According to the tired narrative of such things, voices like Diaz’s were never given a chance before 1990 or so. If that’s true then it’s good that Drown was published. Diaz is a talented author who may just surprise us with an enduring work before he’s through.If not, his works will serve as a good counterargument to the next generation of literary types who tell us Latino authors were never given a chance until (insert literary movement here) came along.

  • Josh
    2019-03-13 10:05

    An insight into poverty, family matters and ordinary life intertwined amongst several stories. Junot's anecdotes range from the barren streets of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in or around the time of Operation Power Pack, the everlasting-but-rewarding fight for the so-called 'American Dream' in Nueva York, Nueva York and a glimpse into the 'la loco' life of teenagers and their vices in Perth Amboy/South Amboy, New Jersey.The main themes to me are the struggle of a woman forced to ignore her husband's infidelities due to a better life for not only her, but her familia; a physically disabled boy who's dreams of being normal doesn't supercede his wish to be a wrestler; the daily lives of Ramon (Yunior) and his brother Rafa in the Capital city of the island -- accepting who they are and living life day by day without worry; a somewhat irresponsible father trying to 'do the right thing', but fails to do so many times until he has no other place to go but in a positive direction.I'm not generally into short stories, but when all seem somewhat random, but really show a complete story in itself, I find an interesting quality about that. This debut from an author, who seemingly came out of nowhere to now, 15+ years later, is appreciated as he should be. This book is rewarding in its purpose, flow and overall language. Recommended.

  • Daniel
    2019-03-20 06:07

    WOW! Just freaking wow!!!I picked this book up because I enjoyed The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. When I started to read it, I thought that this felt like a handful of failed starts to similar novels. But the further that I read into it, the more I realized what it was that Junot Diaz was doing, painting a complete picture out of multiple fractured pieces. The writing in this book is remarkably sparse, short with details and full of space where you are asked to interject your own imagination. Diaz fills that space in an odd, non-linear way through the conversation and through the narrative from the characters in completely random fashion. But, the payoff is that as the short stories continue, he has given you enough clues to put everything in perspective.It's then that you realize that the pictures are rarely pretty, often lonely, rich with emptiness and squalor, but not bereft of human spirit clinging to the promise of something...even if all that something is happens to be an empty apartment, a half-filled 40, a broken relationship, or a full syringe.I very much look forward to all his future work.

  • Evan Leach
    2019-02-24 05:59

    This is a very strong debut collection. Díaz’s prose is a real pleasure to read, his characters are interesting and multi-dimensional, and his stories are well crafted. My favorites were perhaps Fiesta, 1980 and Negocios, but almost all of the stories were good to very good.The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is one of my favorite Pulitzer winners of the 21st century. These ten stories don't deliver quite the same mix of humor and emotional punch that made Oscar Wao so special, but they are quite strong. Fans of Díaz's later work, or of good short fiction in general, will enjoy this collection. 4.0 stars, recommended!

  • Shawn
    2019-03-13 09:07

    4.5 starsI think this is some of the finest prose I've ever read. The fact that Drown is a debut book blows my mind. The stories feel honest, sometimes brutally so; the characters, from the repeated protagonist and narrator, Yunior, to Yunior's father, to the woman in "Edison, New Jersey," seem like fully realized human beings; and Diaz's mastery of language is astounding, not only his code-switching, but the innovative English phrasing as well.I can't wait to make my way through Diaz's other two books, not to mention whatever he publishes in the future.

  • mis fit
    2019-03-22 05:59

    at some points, i really enjoyed this book. but i just couldn't get past the way a lot of the female characters are treated. maybe i just didn't get it, but i would have liked to read a story about the mother's experiences, more so than about the cheating father

  • Ben Loory
    2019-03-15 03:08

    This was an interesting collection. More of a mosaic novel, really. While I didn't particularly love any of the individual stories, they were all beautifully written, and all gradually cohered together into a single larger piece that had a great deal of power. Definitely a "whole is greater than the sum of its parts" situation. I'd been avoiding this book for years because I really hated the Oscar Wao book, but this was everything that book was not: tight & emotionally focused. Felt silly for not having believed people who told me this was good. It's good!

  • Lauren
    2019-03-01 03:46

    So I read this out of order—started with Oscar Wao and then This is How You Lose Her, so not sure if that influences my view of this book (though, in my opinion, all of Diaz’s writing is extraordinary…so perhaps it doesn’t matter). I know this review will in no way do any of his work justice…but I’ll take a stab at it anyway, if only for the fact that a writer like this deserves the time and effort.I’ll start with Yunior, simply because he is the heart of this book. I’m guessing most women don’t like him—think he’s a pig, a jerk, a “cabrón.” I’m not convinced. Is he crude? Yes. Does he sometimes make you squirm or fill you with anger via his actions, his treatment of others (particularly women), his general outlook on the world? For sure. But, to me anyway, he’s a lot more complex, and a lot more genuine than that. It’s easy to write him off as the typical arrogant, selfish male protagonist. What’s wonderful about this book, and Diaz’s writing, is that you’re not allowed to do that without at least first delving a little bit deeper under the surface.Yunior and his family are complicated people (then again, aren’t most of us?) and though his forays into drugs, women, theft, etc. might make you uncomfortable, he is real and honest in surprising ways. He notices things, pays attention. Whether it’s the true person underneath Aurora’s tough, immune exterior, or the beauty of a mama duck and her babies on his way to work, Yunior GETS it. I love that about him. He’s no angel—not even close—but certainly possesses a compassion and sincerity within that strikes you in profound ways. Yunior is someone I’d want to sit down and have a drink with…if only to get to know him better, to find a way to connect that might allow him to open up a little bit more and let somebody—anybody—in.Now, on to Diaz. I am in awe of the way this man writes. Genius. Brilliant. Astounding. These are the words that come to mind as each word he writes, each sentence he crafts, runs through your mind. Such simple yet profound sentences (i.e. “We hurt each other too well to let it drop” and “Makes you look fierce”) hit you with such force that you pause to inhale and breathe it all in. The man is a master with language and imagery and pure poetic prose. It’s just extraordinary. (Speaking of wanting to sit down and chat—to have an opportunity to do so with Junot Diaz would be absolutely phenomenal! I could talk to him for days and never get tired.):) I love that he creates these characters and places that are completely authentic. I’ve been lucky enough to visit NJ, NY and DR. I’ve seen the squalor of some of the NYC streets and the pockets of destitution in areas of the DR. Diaz brings to light the truth of what people experience on a daily basis—what goes on behind closed doors—and forces you to take a closer look. People get abandoned by their families; friends and lovers struggle as their loved ones spiral into drug and alcohol addiction; people with disabilities are disrespected and treated with disdain; immigrants fight to find work and live in a country full of promise that often fails to deliver even hope. What would I imagine Diaz saying? “This is life, man. This is LIFE.” This book is life. Not everyone’s life, no…but many more than we realize. And its power holds more meaning in 208 pages than many other pieces of art you’ll ever experience.I cannot speak highly enough of this writer, or his work. It’s transcending and gritty and funny and powerful…and REAL. Read it. Then read it again. Watch your perspective shift. Grapple with the realities of this world. Notice how you start to pay more attention.

  • Nicholas Armstrong
    2019-03-12 05:43

    It's a point of contention with me when authors ignore grammar. That isn't to say I'm against authorial intent -- not using a comma or using one for emphasis -- but when some are just tossed out lackadaisically I have to wonder why. There are moments in Drown where there is no reason not to use the proper grammar, and being a big fan of the impact grammar can have on a reader (when used correctly) this irks me. Why do (or not do) something if it has no effect? It just seems lazy to me. On the other hand, the merging of dialogue into the exposition and description without any quotations does have an interesting affect. I find myself disconnected from the characters and the action; all of the story seemed to just merge into a single melting pot where there was no distinct action or break, just one seamless narrative. This was an interesting choice, but I ultimately prefer the norm. It was too easy for me not to care about anything I was reading when the dialogue was removed and tone was so journalistic to began with.The stories themselves seem to fluctuate wildly in meaning, symbolism, and impact. Some of them are slightly whimsical, some depressing, some highly meaningful, but they are all (it seems) about the same character and his family. I thought it an odd choice that some of the stories would be told in such completely different voices. Yunior seems to waver between tragic hero and heroic villain. His father is much the same; (although ultimately more a villain) a figure of domination and pain upon his family until we are given 'Negocios', which seems to contradict much of what we know of the character. As far as I'd read before the father was an imperceptibly quiet monster with no concern whatsoever for his family or anyone else, and yet he is a young man with hopes and dreams and love. This is all fine, characters just like people can change, but there is no reason given. This character goes from optimistic to abusive in the span of pages and for no concrete reason. I do not think I am naive in thinking there should be a reason for this. I've seen any number of people change and it never seems to be just for the hell of it, so seeing it described in such a way leaves me a little perplexed. Also, I wonder how it is Yunior even knows these stories. His father hardly talked to him, and treated him even less like a son, so I have to wonder how it is Yunior learned any of this from a man who beat his family and cheated openly on their mother. Who would have filled in these details?Perhaps a large majority of my complaints were done purposefully. Perhaps we are not supposed to know what exactly caused the change in Papi or how it is his son came to learn all of this, but dammit, that's stupid. I want to know that. Assuming this was actually Diaz, he knows, so why not tell us? Without the details these stories fluctuate in quality and cohesion and I can't think it would have harmed a thing to have let us in on the how and why.It's an interesting style, but not, ultimately, one I am a fan of.

  • Mat
    2019-03-19 09:04

    This book had a wonderful gritty restrained tension about it. Imagine you shatter a mirror but that mirror represents your life or fragments of memories of your life which you start to pick up and re-assemble into a mangled collage. That's what Drown felt like to me. Poignant, heart-felt, bitter, poetic, lascivious, disdainful are just some of the adjectives that don't even begin to do justice in describing how good and how powerful a writer Diaz is. Boy look out. This guy is going to be big. He already is big but is going to get better and better and better I imagine. This was written back in 1996 so I have to play catch-up here.Are there any writers I could compare his style to? Sure. At times it reminded me of Bukowski (but that maybe more to do with the characters and setting rather than the style), William Burroughs Jr. (the son) and even a touch of John Fante. But, as some of the reviewers have pointed out, there is something distinct about his style. There is a beautiful restrained tension which feels like words were withheld from the reader at the last moment, as if their impact would be too much. Here is a writer who writes very carefully and there is a poetry that sings between its lines. The story doesn't sing a happy story but a very real and sad one about Yunior, the narrator, his mother, his older brother, his aunts and uncles, his messed-up girlfriend addict and ultimately his father who abandoned him to go and work in the States only to return many years later. I was reminded of something while reading this book - great literature doesn't necessarily make us cheer for the characters from the sidelines. Its job, sometimes, is just simply to make us understand why people are the way they are, or, at the very least, where they are probably coming from. As everyone has a different story to tell. Even Yunior's father, who at first sight seems like an easily deplorable person, I ended up sympathizing with him, especially as someone white who has had it easy for most of my life. After reading this I feel like I have nothing to complain about. People who go through this kind of hardship come out the other side, if at all, like some hard, brutal desert flower that manages to survive in the desert of life.Great book. A great read. This is most probably the best book I have read this year. Can't wait to read his other stuff.Thank you Michael for lending me a copy of this and for being tuned into what I might appreciate in a novelist. You were spot on as usual.

  • Jinny Chung
    2019-03-05 01:58

    I feel a closeness to Junot Díaz that I don't with most authors. There's something so familiar and inviting about his prose; when I read it, I'm transported there. "I can totally hear him saying that!" The people in his novels are So Real to me, and when he talks coming-of-age, all his characters are versions of the people from my childhood.Junot, please write more. I require more than just this and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. How it is you make us laugh and cry as cathartically as you do, I'll never know. How, motherf*cker, how?!"Everyone had a different opinion on the damage. Tío said it wasn't bad but the father was very sensitive about anything taunting his oldest son, which explained the mask. Tía said that if we were to look on his face we would be sad for the rest of our lives. That's why the poor boy's mother spends her day in church. I had never been sad more than a few hours and the thought of that sensation lasting a lifetime scared the hell out of me."."Mami must have caught me studying her because she stopped what she was doing and gave me a smile, maybe her first one of the night. Suddenly I wanted to go over and hug her, for no other reason than I loved her, but there were about eleven fat jiggling bodies between us. So I sat down on the tiled floor and waited."."We could never get Mami to do anything after work, even cook dinner, if she didn't first sit awhile in her rocking chair. She didn't want to hear nothing about our problems, the scratches we'd put into our knees, who said what. She'd sit on the back patio with her eyes closed and let the bugs bite mountains onto her arms and legs. Sometimes I climbed the guanábana tree and when she'd open her eyes and catch me smiling down on her, she'd close them again and I would drop twigs onto her until she laughed."."Homegirl was too beautiful, too high-class for a couple of knuckleheads for us. Never saw her in a t-shirt or without jewelry. And her boyfriend, olvídate. That nigger could have been a model; hell, they both could have been models, which was what they probably were, considering that I never heard word one pass between them about a job or a fucking boss. People like these were untouchables to me, raised on some other planet and then transplanted into my general vicinity to remind me how bad I was living."

  • Elli (The Bibliophile)
    2019-03-19 08:43

    This was a really good collection of short stories that follow Dominican and dominican-American characters and their day to day lives. About half of the stories are narrated by Yunior, the narrator of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and the stories not narrated by him are often somehow connected to him or his family. As usual, Junot Diaz's writing style is just great. The stories all flowed well, with great pacing. I really enjoyed how conversations were integrated into the prose, without any quotations. I found this aspect made the prose flow nicely and seamlessly.We really learn a lot about Yunior through these stories- his experiences, his family and in many ways get to understand why he acts the way he does. I would say my favourite story was the last one, which was specifically about Yunior's father. This story seemed to have a similar purpose the stories about Yunior had, namely, for the reader to better understand these characters, their struggles, and why they act the way they do.Part of me wishes the whole book had been about Yunior and his family, the stories dealing with other characters just weren't as compelling overall in my opinion and dragged the book down a bit. I feel like either Yunior and his family should not have had such a large focus, or the whole book should have been about them. Because the book fell somewhere in the middle, it seemed more like a random patchwork than a seamless collection at times.Honestly, I would rate this more 3.5/5 for the reason stated above. I decided to bump it up to 4/5 mostly for the style, and how much I enjoyed Yunior's stories. I definitely recommend this for anyone who likes short stories, enjoys immigrant narratives, or who has read and enjoyed Diaz's work in the past!

  • Jean
    2019-03-08 02:41

    These are well written stories. On one hand, they seem as if they could be autobiographical but then again they seem to be snippets taken from various protagonist's lives. I think what I come away with is a great read about people's sorrows and hard times while trying to make themselves better. However, Diaz so adroitly writes these stories that I did not feel depressed or maudlin reading any of them. He writes the stories, bam, you have it this is what it is. No apologies, no synpathy required.Diaz appears to say, "this was the times, this is the way it was. I think that it takes an excellent author to accomplish this fete.

  • Leah Polcar
    2019-03-06 08:58

    This review refers to the audiobook version of Drown.I am not sure how I missed all the buzz around Junot Diaz. Recently, I came across one of his stories in Nightmares, a magazine edited by John Joseph Adams (which I also recommend), and was struck by his exceptional story Monstro, a reprint that originally appeared in The New Yorker. Diaz had, and has, a truly exceptional voice and I couldn't wait to get my hands on something else he wrote.As a fan of short stories, and for an excellent defense (and propaganda for the form) read his introduction to The Best American Short Stories 2016, I was excited to find out that his foray into fame was Drown, a collection of short stories. Drown is really a remarkable collection. All of the stories are interconnected in that they touch on aspects of the life of the main character, Ramon (Yunior) de las Casas. At least 5 of the 10 stories are directly narrated by Yunior where we get his perspective on his early childhood in the Dominican Republic, his adolescent experiences in New Jersey, his young adult working life, and his troubled relationship with his father: a man who abandoned the family in the DR to start a new life in America, with an entirely new family, but who eventually comes back to retrieve Yunior, his long suffering mother, and brother.3 of the remaining 5 stories may be told by Yunior, but probably the strongest entry, No Face is narrated by a disfigured boy awaiting reconstructive surgery in the US, who Yunior knew in the Dominican Republic. This story is truly beautiful -- a meditation of who we are so much more than how people see us. In my opinion the other truly outstanding story isHow to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie which is presented as an instruction manual for dating and is really a fabulous description of how race and social status set up our expectations. The voice is so original and fresh that I was left somewhat stunned.I listened to this as an audiobook and was quite impressed by the narrator. Jonathan Davis did an outstanding job moving seamlessly between Spanish, urban slang, and plain old English -- he truly gave voice to Yunior (and the other narrators) and really added something to Drown.Buy, borrow, or burn? Buy it then buy another. Highly recommended.You can also read this exact same review on my blog Read or Die.

  • Monique
    2019-03-21 10:08

    Originally posted here.When I finished reading Drown last year, I felt a little sad. See, it was the last Junot Diaz book I will read until he publishes a new one, so reading the last pages and finally closing the book turning off my Kindle (who, incidentally, is named after a Junot Diaz character) felt like saying goodbye to a really good friend. And I’m not referring to Junot Diaz.Drown is a collection of short stories principally featuring young immigrants from the Dominican Republic. The ten stories are alternately set in New York, New Jersey and – of course – the Dominican Republic, and told in the voices of Yunior, brash and bold Dominicano, and his contemporaries. They speak about the impoverished and unfortunate lives of people who, for me, are primarily (and reasonably so) in search of acceptance: in a new place they are forced to call their home, with the people they are bound to call family, among peers and strangers whose lives they are unalterably drawn to. The experiences of these narrators are captured in wry and fierce language, gripped with the emotions attributed to the words. This isn’t the first time I’ve met Yunior – he was Oscar Wao's friend (and Oscar's sister's boyfriend) in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and in This Is How You Lose Her he is more prominently featured as a cheating asshole, among other things. But notwithstanding his crass actions and brutal language, Yunior and I, we’ve bonded. His humanity seeped through the ruthless façade, and his vulnerability filtered through. Yunior and I, we’ve become friends. And this is why I feel sad letting go. His story has come full circle, and it’s time to move on. *My favorite stories are those that are connected with each another, although they’re not arranged in successive order. In Ysrael, the adolescent narrator and his brother - Yunior and his older brother Rafa, who is also a recurring character in Junot Diaz's stories - are sent to the campo for the summer, where they cruelly taunt a boy whose face was mutilated by a pig and was waiting to undergo a reconstructive procedure. Later, in No Face, we are confronted with the story of the same boy, who is now telling his own tale. Then, in Arguantando, Yunior and his family wait to hear from their father, who has since moved to the US.Just as in Oscar Wao and This Is How You Lose Her, I truly admire Junot Diaz’s writing prowess. There are people who may read it and not totally “get” it, but his writing is something exceptional. Estoy enamorada de ti, Junot!