27 November 2007

Junot Díaz, Drown, 1997

With the release of his first novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao there’s a buzz about Junot Díaz, and Drown is an impressive themed collection of shorts on growing up in the Dominican Republic followed by life as a New York immigrant, and the high expectations I had of this collection were largely met; most of the stories are narrated by Yunior and focus on individuals in his family at the expense of himself, and I suspect there’s a heavy autobiographical thread running through them. The writing is for the most part crystal clear and sophisticated, observant and considerably streetwise; to Díaz language is everything and he consciously uses it to illuminate character and impart detail and a sense of place with brilliant effect. Highly recommended.   PY

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