Drown

( 58 )

Overview


"This stunning collection of stories offers an unsentimental glimpse of life among the immigrants from the Dominican Republic--and other front-line reports on the ambivalent promise of the American dream--by an eloquent and original writer who describes more than physical dislocation in conveying the price that is paid for leaving culture and homeland behind." --San Francisco Chronicle.

Junot Diaz's stories are as vibrant, tough, unexotic, and beautiful as their settings - ...

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Drown

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Overview


"This stunning collection of stories offers an unsentimental glimpse of life among the immigrants from the Dominican Republic--and other front-line reports on the ambivalent promise of the American dream--by an eloquent and original writer who describes more than physical dislocation in conveying the price that is paid for leaving culture and homeland behind." --San Francisco Chronicle.

Junot Diaz's stories are as vibrant, tough, unexotic, and beautiful as their settings - Santa Domingo, Dominican Neuva York, the immigrant neighborhoods of industrial New Jersey with their gorgeously polluted skyscapes. Places and voices new to our literature yet classically American: coming-of-age stories full of wild humor, intelligence, rage, and piercing tenderness. And this is just the beginning. Diaz is going to be a giant of American prose. --Francisco Goldman

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. --Booklist

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Editorial Reviews

Robert Spillman

With recent stories in The New Yorker, The Paris Review and "Best American Stories," Junot Diaz has been hyped as the next young gun of American fiction. With his bare-knuckled prose ("That's the way it is. They built these barrios out of bad luck and you got to get used to that.") and tough, grim settings, Diaz works the same emotional landscape as early Jerzy Kosinski and Thom Jones. And like Jones and Kosinski, Diaz's work mainly consists of thinly veiled autobiography.

The 10 stories in "Drown" tell of his impoverished, fatherless youth in the Dominican Republic and his struggle with immigrant life in New Jersey. Diaz has a precise eye for pain, rendering the suffering of the dispossessed with clinical accuracy. In the stories "Ysrael" and "No Face," Diaz tells of a boy whose face has been horribly disfigured by a pig and how he is tormented by the kids of the village. But Diaz also has a wry touch, as in "How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie," where the teenage narrator living in the projects gives a lesson in how to get laid by any kind of girl: "Dinner will be tense... A halfie will tell you that her parents met in the Movement... Your brother once heard that one and said, 'Man, that sounds like a whole lot of Uncle Tomming to me.' Don't repeat this."

The last story, "Negocios," points up this collection's one weakness. It is a chronicle of his father's immigration, remarriage and, finally, the rescuing of his children and first wife from their bleak life in the Dominican Republic. While the language, images and characters are well drawn, there's little sense of fiction -- little of the depth and breadth of Kosinski or Jones. These stories don't read like stories, but more like sociology or reportage, like firsthand New Yorker pieces of old. Diaz expertly captures the rage and alienation of the Dominican immigrant experience, but it will be interesting to see what he does if he turns his talent and indignation to true fiction. -- Salon

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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."
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.
Kirkus Reviews
Díaz'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, Díaz 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.

Díaz'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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781573226066
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/28/1997
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 42,543
  • Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet 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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Table of Contents

Ysrael
Fiesta, 1980
Aurora
Aguantando
Drown
Boyfriend
Edison, New Jersey
How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie
No Face
Negocios
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 58 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(32)

4 Star

(17)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 59 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Drown by: Junot Diaz

    Drown was recommended to me by my 9th grade english teacher to read over the summer. I loved this book. It's about a dominican boy and his life from the island of Dominican Republic to the live city of Newark, New Jersey. As a Dominican I related to the book and enjoyed it. I dont like reading and I read this in a week.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2012

    From a Dominican point of view

    I loved this book. Although it started out slow, it brought back many memories from my home . Dominicam Republic contributed a lot. The stories, slang, names everything was wrapped up into a gift of Dominican culture. This book is by far my top favorite. I was emotionally attactched to the Character Yunior, that was a very unusual thing. Coming from a place where we both came from and having a similar backgrounf / childhood it was astonishing. I loved this book, i suggest you buy it. Short story and all you will grow fond of it, you'll be sad when it will end.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2007

    book review

    Drown is a collection of ten short stories loosely connected by the theme of adolescent boys to young adults in rough neighborhoods of both the Dominican Republic and Dominican barrios in New Jersey. These characters have the common struggle of facing the poverty in their life that leads to drugs, violence and pitiless crimes. The characters Diaz portrays make no excuses for themselves and don¿t wallow in self pity. The world they live in is all they have ever known, and they all live in the moment. I think the title of the book suggests that the characters¿ childhood purity is being drowned out as they are forced into the cold reality of adulthood. Diaz writes his stories off of life experiences which create a realistic yet raw view into the lives of his characters. He speaks the plain truth and uses Hispanic slang to display the culture of the book. These stories are somewhat crude and intended towards a mature audience. this isn't the genre of book I would normally read, although I enjoyed how Diaz told it like it is and used hispanic culture to give the stories personality. I would recommend this collection to those who like short stories, and who would like some insight on the rough lives of Dominican immagrants.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Very Good Collection of Short Stories.

    A very good first book by Junot Dias. Most of the short stories in this collection involve Yunior. Yunior is a Dominican living in New Jersey who gets involved in nefarious activities. Street slang and Dominican Spanish is used a lot in the diction of the stories. These words are not always understood but they add a glow to the vocabulary of the stories. Yunior does not sugar coat it. You get a strong sense of realism reading Drown. I used to live in Boston and I could imagine Yunior getting mixed up with people that I knew. Drown is a very good testament of inner city life and of Dominican immigrants. They may have left the island but the island has not left them. I applaud Drown. Do not wait for a rainy day to read Drown.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2012

    And your prize is...

    You get any 3 pokemon you want!!!

    1 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2001

    I remember that goat on the leash.

    When reading this book I felt like it was my brother writing about our youth in Los Sures,Brooklyn.I do remember the pictures of us half naked with a goat on a leash.As a matter of fact they are still in my mother's picture album.Junot Diaz captured essence of whatit is to live in the Big City for young Dominican immigrants and their families.The best is yet to come from this young writer.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 2, 2013

    Smart and Funny

    Family life short stories, funny and cruel at the same time. I like it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2013

    Great book

    I read this book many years ago. A Dominican writer who knew exactly what it was like while I was growing up, he kept me laughing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    comically serious, cunningly inspective, and simply awesome!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2012

    Captivating

    Such relateable scenes, intriguing and captivating writing skills a must read. !!!!!

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  • Posted January 15, 2012

    Beautiful and funny

    This is simply beautiful writing. Stories about real characters, writing that takes you deep into their crazy lives until you feel as though you knew them. Also quite funny.

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  • Posted July 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I was truly disappointed in this effort, especially after reading Oscar Wao.

    Drown by Junot Díaz

    Ten short stories, some about the bleak peripheral existence of Dominicans in the States: drug dealing, stealing, miserable living conditions, and screwing anything with a skirt...

    Other stories about the author's life in Ocoa, Dominican Republic; and the author's struggles of growing up poor in his homeland.

    Perhaps, the best story is "Negocios," about his father's immigration to the US, marrying to get a green card and finally coming back to get his family.

    This is the first book of the Pulitzer Price winner author (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao), and it really shows. The prose is poor, the Spanish words are used and not translated, making the book only readable to a bilingual person. I was truly disappointed in this effort, especially after reading Oscar Wao.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 4, 2011

    If You like getting lost in your books - this book is for you

    I absolutely love this book, all the characters are very interesting and you start to feel like you known them. It's also amazing how the characters from different parts of life connect.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 2, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Fantastic Collection of Stories

    After reading "Oscar Wao" I just had to see what else was available by this terrific new author...well new to mee anyway. I am not usually a big reader of short stories, prefering rather to read fiction with a cohesive narative all the way through. This collection of stories bounces from character to character and varies also in time and place, but when put together the stories seem connected to a larger perspective on family, friends, acceptance, and struggle. They tell a bigger story in disparate pieces, but a beautiful and connected story none the less. If you are a fan of Denis Johnson's "Jesus's Son" you will find this collection equally rewarding.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 30, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    fascinating book

    This book was simply fascinating and the writing drew you in. This one should be on everyone's bookshelf.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2008

    Best book ever

    This book is very interesting and outstandingly good. It is the best book i'll ever get

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2006

    He gets down with this one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    A thoroughly enjoyable novel by a novelist who writes in a way dealing with the real deal.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2006

    A Must Read!!!!!!!!!!

    This is a raw and provactive book, at the same time honest, humble and educational. it's a fiction but your almost convinced it's a true story because it's exactly what goes on in some hispanic families leaving their homeland to come to the U.S. Diaz writes from the heart and leaves nothing out. The man makes you read and read, and i'll promise you the story will stay with you and make you think!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2005

    This book changed my life!!

    The book captivates the reader with every word. The stories come straight from the heart and leave you with a raw, emotional but very grounded impression of life as a Latino. I have read many of the short stories over and over again because I loved them so much. My favorite story was boyfriend/girlfriend because it talks about many issues which couples go through today. His writing style flows very well and he uses wonderful metaphors to express the emotions felt by the characters in the short stories.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2005

    A Way with Words

    A fantastic read! I went and bought Drown a few years ago and it remains to be my favorite book. The words flow together, as if the characters are speaking to you directly. I was especially enchanted with 'Aurora.' It is a rough story but some parts of it still make me cry. You can feel the emotion, the pain, the grief they both have for eachother. Eventhough the subject is hard, I think most people can relate to the madness that goes with love. I strongly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys reading fiction. And also to anyone who enjoys great prose.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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