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Drown by Junot Diaz

Drown (edition 1997)

by Junot Diaz

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1,879333,666 (3.81)86
Authors:Junot Diaz
Info:Riverhead Trade (1997), Edition: First Edition Thus, Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:short stories, many connected, Dominican Republic, New York, New Jersey, poverty, immigration, talent this big will always make a noise, 2012

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Drown by Junot Díaz


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A collection of short stories following Yunior, a Dominican boy with an abusive father and drug-dealing career who immigrates to the US as a small boy. Each story is it's own entity, but at the same time they come together to form Yunior's childhood and young adult years comprehensively. ( )
  J9Plourde | Jun 13, 2017 |
Drown is a series of interconnected short stories that follow the life of young Yunior, his brother Rafa, and their mother and father as the family moves from the Dominican Republic to the neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York, a largely Dominican/Caribbean neighborhood. As the stories progress, Diaz is able to advance Yunior’s voice along with his age, a narrative skill I’ve seen used hundreds of times, but never with the dexterity that Diaz brings to the overall story. Take this example, the beginning of the first story (“Ysrael”):

I was nine that summer, but my brother was twelve, and he was the one who wanted to see Ysrael, who looked out towards Barbacoa and said, We should pay that kid a visit.

Versus the beginning of the second story (“Fiesta, 1980″):

everybody decided we should have a party. Actually, my pops decided, but everybody – meaning Mami, tia Yrma, tio Miguel and their neighbors – thought it was a dope idea.

In the 21 pages between the beginning of “Ysrael” and “Fiesta”, Diaz manages to age Yunior in a way that is not only visibly progressive across the page, but also realistically adapted to the character at hand. Although the narrative voice continues to change as chapters progress, and there are some who believe that perhaps Diaz is playing with multiple narrators rather than just Yunior, I believe that looking at the deeper traits of the character indicates that it’s the same character in different points of life, throughout the novel.

Yunior is a sensitive boy. He’s beaten by his father, growing up, for getting car sick (“Fiesta, 1980″). His brother is both violent and cruel (“Ysrael”). His mother is poor, broken, and tired, having been dragged around her entire life by a man who may love her but certainly isn’t faithful to her (“Aguantando”). It’s a hard life for Yunior to live, and he doesn’t escape unscathed. He becomes a drug dealer, violent towards women (“Aurora”) as well as homophobically unsure in his sexuality (“Drown”) (just to clarify, when I say homophobically unsure, I mean that Yunior has two – he makes sure the reader knows its ONLY two – sexual interactions with another male friend and while he reacts homophobically, there is also a part of him that begins to questions aspects of his sexuality previously left alone). However, even with all of the negative cultural influences that seem to pervade Yunior’s life, he is still a character with a certain amount of innocence in his heart, who has an inherent predilection for kindness and tolerance rather than hate or dismissal. He truly loves people, getting to know them and doing what he cane for them. And he love his mother. Which is always nice to see.

It’s not often that books assigned for class end up being wonderful reads that I’m glad I was assigned. Even attaching the word “assigned” to a book can often make even the most wonderful book on the planet pretty horrible-ish. But this was a noteable exception. If you’ve got any interest in reading about the blending between Latin American/Caribbean and American cultures, the progression of character development, and/or family dynamics that operate in a less than dynamic family, Drown is most likely right up your alley. Then again, I have to say that, if you like books, Drown might also be right up your alley.
( )
  coutlaw | May 4, 2017 |
Young immigrants of color show their gratitude to America by looking for drugs and sex while occasionally committing theft and trying to avoid, or cause, physical altercations. Sample sentence from "Aurora": "I wrote but I can't remember what I said to her, except that the cops had come after her neighbor for stealing somebody's car and that the gulls were shitting on everything." Sample sentence from "Drown": "We were raging then, crazy the way we stole, broke windows, the way we pissed on people's steps and then challenged them to come out and stop us." Sample sentence from "How To Date A Browngirl...": "If she's a whitegirl you know you'll at least get a handjob." ( )
  YESterNOw | Feb 29, 2016 |
The experiences of a Dominican Rep immigrant family, 14 December 2015

This review is from: Drown (Paperback)
Short and deceptively simple stories, following the members of a Dominican republic family, and set both there and in their new home in New Jersey. Adulterous, bullying father, resentful mother and the principal narrator, younger son Yunior; the stories are glimpses into their lives, and the fact that they are not in chronological order adds massively to the impact. So as we see the unhappy household in the USA ("I'd written an essay in school called MY FATHER THE TORTURER, but the teacher made me write a new one. She thought I was kidding"), the final chapter that tells of Father's decision to bring his family over, after many years abandonment has a bitterness rather than the heart-warming feeling it might otherwise have conveyed.
Great writing. ( )
  starbox | Dec 14, 2015 |
Here's the thing. Anything you read by Diaz is going to feel like heavy drinking in a rough-around-the-edges bar; the kind of place where it's too dark to see; where the soles of your shoes are sticky-stuck to the floor and there is the obsessively constant need to wipe your hands and mouth. Diaz has that conversational, lean in and listen way of talking that sounds slightly conspiratorial but always brutally honest. While the stories change direction and voice, the messages of culture, society, family, tradition and passion do not. Powerful characters are matched only by their fierce loves and tragic losses. Their triumphs and travesties are spilled across the page with a "so what?" wild abandon. It's as if you are elbow to elbow with Diaz as he whispers to you lush stories from his childhood, his coming of age, his entire history. Every story is intensely personal. But, But! But, all the while you are aware that this bar, these stories - this is his turf and you are not safe without him there. You need him to keep talking. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Sep 25, 2015 |
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The fact that I
am writing to you
in English
already falsifies what i
wanted to tell you.
My subject:
how to explain to you that I
don't belong to English
though I belong nowhere else

Gustavo Perez Firmat
Para mi madre,

Virtudes Díaz
First words
We are on our way to the colmado for an errand, a beer for my tío, when Rafa stood still and tilted his head, as if listening to a message I couldn't hear, something beamed in from afar.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679776575, Paperback)

El lector tiene en sus manos una colección de relatos que viene precedida de una enorme expectación. Su autor, seleccionado por Newsweek como uno de los diez nuevos rostros para el noventa y seis, nos transporta desde los pueblos y parajes polvorientos de su tierra natal, la República Dominicana, hasta los barrios industrials y el paisaje urbano de New Jersey, bajo un horizonte de chimeneas humeantes. La obra triunfal que marcó el arranque literario de Junot Díaz puede ahora disfrutarse en una edición en español que conserva en su integridad la fuerza desabrida y la delicadeza del texto original.Los niños y jóvenes que pueblan las páginas de Negocios gravitan sin sosiego por territorios marginales, a mitad de camino entre la inocencia y la experiencia, entre la curiosidad infantil y la crueldad más descarnada. Criados en hogares abandonados por el padre, donde todo se sostiene gracias a la férrea abegación de la madre, estos adolescentes acarician sueños de independencia, asomándose con recelo a un mundo donde intuyen que no hay un lugar reservado para ellos. En estos diez relatos la prosa de Junot Díaz oscila con sabiduría entre el humor, la desolación y la ternura, desplegando en cada página un estilo palpitante de vida.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:08 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Stories set in the Dominican Republic and in New Jersey. In Ysrael, a boy is disfigured by a pig, No Face is on his trip to America to undergo plastic surgery, and How to Date is on the art of dating interracially.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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