Vanessa V. Friedman
October 04, 1996 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Drown

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Junot Diaz
genre
Short Stories, Fiction

We gave it an A-

The best short stories are like windows: Though they allow you to see only one vista, a sense of the greater surroundings is always there. In Junot Diaz’s stories in Drown, the greater surroundings are the Dominican Republic and the poor community in New Jersey where he was raised; the window onto them is his own childhood and adolescence. There is, for example, ”Fiesta, 1980,” which tells of a party to welcome the narrator’s aunt to the U.S. but also hints of the troubles in his parents’ relationship and his own problems with his father. ”Negocios,” a tale about trying to fit in while losing your sense of self in the process, centers on a father’s abandonment of his Dominican family, his bigamy in the United States, and then his efforts to reverse his actions by abandoning his second family and bringing the first Stateside. Although each stands on its own, when read together Diaz’s remarkable stories enhance and illuminate each other to create a work greater than its parts. A-

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