Excerpt provided by Syndetics
<anon I1="BLANK" I2="BLANK">Praise for DROWN by Junot Díaz "There have been several noteworthy literary debuts this year, but Díaz deserves to be singled out for the distinctiveness and caliber of his voice, and for his ability to sum up a range of cultural and cross-cultural experiences in a few sharp images.... The motifs--the father absent and indifferent to the family, his infidelities and bullying while they're united, the shabby disrepair of northern New Jersey--resonate from story to story and give Drown its cohesion and weight.... These are powerful and convincing stories. And what is powerful in these stories isn't their cultural message, though that is strong, but a broader, more basic theme.... These 10 finely achieved short stories reveal a writer who will still have something to say after he has used up his own youthful experiences and heartaches." --The Philadelphia Inquirer "Talent this big will always make noise.... [The ten stories in Drown] vividly evoke Díaz's hardscrabble youth in the Dominican Republic and New Jersey, where 'our community was separated from all the other communities by a six-lane highway and the dump.' Díaz has the dispassionate eye of a journalist and the tongue of a poet..." --Newsweek "Junot Díaz's stories are as vibrant, tough, unexotic, and beautiful as their settings--Santo Domingo, Dominican Nueva 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. Díaz is going to be a giant of American prose." --Francisco Goldman "This stunning collection of stories is an unsentimental glimpse at life among immigrants from the Dominican Republic--and another front-line report on the ambivalent promise of the American Dream. Díaz is writing about more than physical dislocation. There is a price for leaving culture and homeland behind...In this cubistic telling, life is marked by relentless machismo, flashes of violence and severe tests of faith from loved ones. The characters are weighted down by the harshness of their circumstances, yet Díaz gives his young narrators a wry sense of humor." --San Francisco Chronicle "Graceful and raw and painful and smart...His prose is sensible poetry that moves like an interesting conversation...The pages turn and all of a sudden you're done and you want more." --The Boston Globe "A stunning and kinetic first collection of short stories.... Díaz has the ear of a poet (a rarity among fiction writers), and many of his stories are piloted by a compelling and often fiercely observed first-person narration. Díaz's precise language drives the accumulation of particular concrete sensory details to the universals of broader, nuanced experience. Comparisons to writers like Sandra Cisneros or Jess Mowry or even Edwidge Danticat (all of whom are at the top of my list) are probably inevitable, but Díaz distinguishes himself thoroughly in this book.... In an era of the glib, hip 'I've-seen-it-all-nothing-shocks-me-anymore' narrator, Díaz doesn't back away from sentiment. Though he is never mawkish, his stories are richly textured in feeling...Díaz is a life-smart, savvy writer who, because he's honest and often funny, very gently breaks your heart." --Hungry Mind Review "New Jersey and the Dominican Republic are thousands of miles apart, but in Junot Díaz's seductive collection of short stories, they seem to blend into each other as effortlessly as Díaz weaves the words that bring to life the recurring characters that populate both places.... In a sense, this book is about that old and much misunderstood Latino demon, machismo, which only recently is being seen as something not innate to Latino males, but rather as the result of their often futile attempts to reconcile their dual roles as men (in the eyes of their families) and as mere boys (in the eyes of the outside world).... There's a lot of artistry in this book, and where there is art, there is always hope." --Austin American-Statesman "Remarkable...His style is succinct and unadorned, yet the effect is lush and vivid, and after a few lines you are there with him, living in his documentary, his narration running through your head almost like your own thoughts.... Vignettes...observed with depth and tenderness but most of all with a simple honesty that rings as clear and true as a wind chime." --The Dallas Morning News "Mesmerizingly honest, heart-breaking and full of promise...Tales of life among the excluded classes of the diaspora, they tread fearlessly where lesser writers gush and politicize--which is exactly their political and aesthetic power." --Si Magazine "Remarkable." --Entertainment Weekly "The talent is strong and individual.... Díaz's languageis careful and astringent...powerful and revelatory." --Houston Chronicle Excerpted from Drown by Junot Díaz All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.</anon>
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Kirkus Book Review
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.