Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Short Stories: Drown by Junot Diaz

Publisher: Riverhead
Date: 1996
Format: paperback
Source: ARCycling
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.)
Pages: 208
Reading time: six days

What it is: A collection of short stories about a Dominican family, especially the second son. Junior grows up first in a poor neighborhood in the Dominican Republic, then as an immigrant in America, and must navigate issues with his family and with his social situation.

Review: I read and enjoyed Junot Diaz's novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao last year, and my favorite story in Drown was "How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie" because it most matched the cynical humor of Oscar Wao. Otherwise, however, the stories in Drown seemed very different from Diaz's novel. The theme of the Dominican immigrant experience was the same, but Drown seemed much more raw and realistic. I didn't really like the characters, whose decisions I often thought were poor, but Diaz's intent to show the grittiness and truth of the lives of similar people was clear. Yet I felt like the stories selected only fragments of Junior's life, and the reader never gained a true understanding of Junior's true character, all of his life experiences or where he would end up. The stories themselves were well-written and, at times, wrenching, but as a whole they left me with a feeling of incompleteness.

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