Wednesday, January 29, 2014

This is How You Lose Her, by Junot Diaz

Junot Diaz. This is How You Lose Her. New York: Riverhead Books, 2012. 217 pages. ISBN 9781594631771.

I heard Junot Diaz speak at a Book Expo America convention in 2012 about what inspired him to write this book. He spoke eloquently about the macho culture of Latino men that prevents them from admitting to or engaging in an emotional commitment to women. Boys aren't brought up to respect women, neither their mothers and sisters, nor their girlfriends or wives.

In This is How You Lose Her, he shows the reader how this culture can be toxic to one's life and loves. Each short story focuses on one relationship that is damaged beyond saving by mistreatment of feelings, and lack of respect. Most of the stories center around one character, Yunior, and his family. In spite of all of Yunior's mistakes and terrible decisions, it's hard not to root for him as he tries to navigate his way through life. There's an element of sadness that runs through all of the stories.

Diaz's earlier books include Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2008. I'll be putting his earlier books on my reading list! I recommend This is How You Lose Her to anyone who enjoys contemporary short fiction.

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