Synopses & Reviews
Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Díaz’s first book, Drown, established him as a major new writer with “the dispassionate eye of a journalist and the tongue of a poet” (Newsweek). His first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, was named #1 Fiction Book of the Year” by Time magazine and spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, establishing itself – with more than a million copies in print – as a modern classic. In addition to the Pulitzer, Díaz has won a host of major awards and prizes, including the National Book Critic’s Circle Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, the PEN/O. Henry Prize, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the Anisfield-Wolf Award. Now Díaz turns his remarkable talent to the haunting, impossible power of love – obsessive love, illicit love, fading love, maternal love. On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness--and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own. In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, the stories in the New York Times-Bestselling This Is How You Lose Her lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.”
Signature Review by Matthew Sharpe "A reader might at first be surprised by how many chapters of a book entitled The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao are devoted not to its sci fi and fantasy-gobbling nerd-hero but to his sister, his mother and his grandfather. However, Junot Diaz's dark and exuberant first novel makes a compelling case for the multiperspectival view of a life, wherein an individual cannot be known or understood in isolation from the history of his family and his nation.Oscar being a first-generation Dominican-American, the nation in question is really two nations. And Dominicans in this novel being explicitly of mixed Tano, African and Spanish descent, the very ideas of nationhood and nationality are thoughtfully, subtly complicated. The various nationalities and generations are subtended by the recurring motif of fuk, 'the Curse and Doom of the New World,' whose 'midwife and... victim' was a historical personage Diaz will only call the Admiral, in deference to the belief that uttering his name brings bad luck (hint: he arrived in the New World in 1492 and his initials are CC). By the prologue's end, it's clear that this story of one poor guy's cursed life will also be the story of how 500 years of historical and familial bad luck shape the destiny of its fat, sad, smart, lovable and short-lived protagonist. The book's pervasive sense of doom is offset by a rich and playful prose that embodies its theme of multiple nations, cultures and languages, often shifting in a single sentence from English to Spanish, from Victorian formality to 'Negropolitan' vernacular, from Homeric epithet to dirty bilingual insult. Even the presumed reader shape-shifts in the estimation of its in-your-face narrator, who addresses us variously as 'folks,' 'you folks,' 'conspiracy-minded-fools,' 'Negro,' 'Nigger' and 'plataneros.' So while Diaz assumes in his reader the same considerable degree of multicultural erudition he himself possesses offering no gloss on his many un-italicized Spanish words and expressions (thus beautifully dramatizing how linguistic borders, like national ones, are porous), or on his plethora of genre and canonical literary allusions he does helpfully footnote aspects of Dominican history, especially those concerning the bloody 30-year reign of President Rafael Lenidas Trujillo. The later Oscar chapters lack the linguistic brio of the others, and there are exposition-clogged passages that read like summaries of a longer narrative, but mostly this fierce, funny, tragic book is just what a reader would have hoped for in a novel by Junot Diaz." Matthew Sharpe is the author of the novels Jamestown and The Sleeping Father. He teaches at Wesleyan University. Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A rich, impassioned vision of the Dominican Republic and its diaspora, filtered through the destiny of a single family.... DÃaz's reverse family saga, crossed with withering political satire, makes for a compelling, sex-fueled, 21st-century tragi-comedy with a magical twist." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"It's been 11 years since Junot Diaz published his acclaimed story collection, Drown, and he has spent the time well, honing the sharp, slangy voice that propels his terrific first novel....A joy to read, and every bit as exhilerating to reread. (Grade: A-)" Entertainment Weekly
"Writing in a combustible mix of slang and lyricism, Diaz loops back and forth in time and place, generating sly and lascivious humor in counterpoint to tyranny and sorrow." Booklist
"The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a book that speaks in tongues. This long-awaited novel by Junot Diaz is a masterpiece about our New World, its myths, curses, and bewitching women. Set in America's navel, New Jersey, and haunted by the vision of Trujillo's brutal reign over the Dominican Republic, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is radiant with the hard lives of those who leave and also those who stay behind it is a rousing hymn about the struggle to defy bone-cracking history with ordinary, and extraordinary, love." Walter Mosley
"Told in blinkingly kinetic prose, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz's dazzling debut novel, fulfills the promise of this writer's short story collection (Drown) and fully reveals a powerful presence in moden American fiction." Cathleen Medwick, O: The Oprah Magazine
"A book so astoundingly great that in a fall crowded with heavyweights Richard Russo, Philip Roth, Nick Hornby, Tom Perotta Diaz is a good bet to run away with the field." Lev Grossman, Critical Mass
"[A] wondrous, not-so-brief first novel that is so original it can only be described as Mario Vargas Llosa meets 'Star Trek' meets David Foster Wallace meets Kanye West. It is funny, street-smart and keenly observed.... [Diaz has] written a book that decisively establishes him as one of contemporary fiction's most distinctive and irresistible new voices." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"[W]ill burn its way into your heart and sizzle your senses." USA Today
"[A] colorful and complex portrait of mad love, old-world superstition, and the continual strivings of a diaspora." Christian Science Monitor
"DÃaz writes invigorating and evocative prose, and his sentences sizzle even as he mixes phrases of Spanish, New Jersey slang and references to Oscar's beloved science fiction." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"[A] hell of a book." Los Angeles Times
"[O]ne of the best first novels of the past few decades." Dallas Morning News
"Funny, street-smart and keenly observed.... An extraordinarily vibrant book that's fueled by adrenaline-powered prose.... A book that decisively establishes [DÆaz] as one of contemporary fiction's most distinctive and irresistible new voices." -Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Terrific... Narrated in high-energy Spanglish, the book is packed with wide-ranging cultural references - to Dune
, Julia Alvarez, The Sound of Music
- as well as erudite and hilarious footnotes on Caribbean history. It is a joy to read, and every bit as exhilarating to reread." -Jennifer Reese, Entertainment Weekly
"Astoundingly great.... You could call The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
the saga of an immigrant family, but that wouldn't really be fair. It's an immigrant-family saga for people who don't read immigrant-family sagas." -Lev Grossman, Time
"Now that DÆaz's second book, a novel called The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
, has finally arrived, younger writers will find that the bar. And some older writers - we know who we are - might want to think about stepping up their game. Oscar Wao shows a novelist engaged with the culture, high and low, and its polyglot language." -David Gates, Newsweek
"In the imagination of many writers it is the untold stories that propel-those vibrant, colorful, magical, historical swirls of humanity that make up our knowing. Junot DÆaz's wondrous first novel offers that and more, enchanting us with energetic poetry and offering us a splendid portrait of ordinary folks set against the extraordinary cruel history of the Dominican Republic in the 20th century. Those of us who have for years known and marveled at Mr. DÆaz's stories will not be disappointed." -Edward P. Jones
“Funny, street-smart and keenly observed…An extraordinarily vibrant book that’s fueled by adrenaline-powered prose.”—Michiko Kakutani
, New York Times
“Díaz finds a miraculous balance. He cuts his barnburning comic-book plots (escape, ruin, redemption) with honest, messy realism, and his narrator speaks in a dazzling hash of Spanish, English, slang, literary flourishes, and pure virginal dorkiness.”—Sam Anderson, New York Magazine
“Genius...a story of the American experience that is giddily glorious and hauntingly horrific...That Díaz’s novel is also full of ideas, that [the narrator’s] brilliant talking rivals the monologues of Roth’s Zuckerman—in short, that what he has produced is a kick-ass (and truly, that is the just word for it) work of modern fiction—all make The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao something exceedingly rare: a book in which a new America can recognize itself, but so can everyone else.”—Oscar Villalon, San Francisco Chronicle
“Astoundingly great.”—Lev Grossman, Time
“Terrific...High-energy...It is a joy to read, and every bit as exhilarating to reread.”—Jennifer Reese, Entertainment Weekly
Finalist for the 2012 National Book Award
Winner of the Sunday Times Short Story Award
A Time and People Top 10 Book of 2012
Finalist for the 2012 Story Prize
Chosen as a notable or best book of the year by The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The LA Times, Newsday, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, the iTunes bookstore, and many more...
“Junot Díaz writes in an idiom so electrifying and distinct its practically an act of aggression, at once enthralling, even erotic in its assertion of sudden intimacy… [It is] a syncopated swagger-step between opacity and transparency, exclusion and inclusion, defiance and desire… His prose style is so irresistible, so sheerly entertaining, it risks blinding readers to its larger offerings. Yet he weds form so ideally to content that instead of blinding us, it becomes the very lens through which we can see the joy and suffering of the signature Díaz subject: what it means to belong to a diaspora, to live out the possibilities and ambiguities of perpetual insider/outsider status.” -The New York Times Book Review
"Nobody does scrappy, sassy, twice-the-speed of sound dialogue better than Junot Díaz. His exuberant short story collection, called This Is How You Lose Her, charts the lives of Dominican immigrants for whom the promise of America comes down to a minimum-wage paycheck, an occasional walk to a movie in a mall and the momentary escape of a grappling in bed." -Maureen Corrigan, NPR
“Exhibits the potent blend of literary eloquence and street cred that earned him a Pulitzer Prize… Díazs prose is vulgar, brave, and poetic.” -O Magazine
“Searing, irresistible new stories… Its a harsh world Díaz conjures but one filled also with beauty and humor and buoyed by the stubborn resilience of the human spirit.” -People
“Junot Díaz has one of the most distinctive and magnetic voices in contemporary fiction: limber, streetwise, caffeinated and wonderfully eclectic… The strongest tales are those fueled by the verbal energy and magpie language that made Brief Wondrous Life so memorable and that capture Yuniors efforts to commute between two cultures, Dominican and American, while always remaining an outsider.” -Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“These stories… are virtuosic, command performances that mine the deceptive, lovelorn hearts of men with the blend of tenderness, comedy and vulgarity of early Philip Roth. It's Díaz's voice that's such a delight, and it is every bit his own, a melting-pot pastiche of Spanglish and street slang, pop culture and Dominican culture, and just devastating descriptive power, sometimes all in the same sentence.” -USA Today
“Impressive… comic in its mopiness, charming in its madness and irresistible in its heartfelt yearning.” -The Washington Post
"The dark ferocity of each of these stories and the types of love it portrays is reason enough to celebrate this book. But the collection is also a major contribution to the short story form... It is an engrossing, ambitious book for readers who demand of their fiction both emotional precision and linguistic daring." -NPR
“The centripetal force of Díazs sensibility and the slangy bar-stool confidentiality of his voice that he makes this hybridization feel not only natural and irresistible, but inevitable, the voice of the future… [This is How You Lose Her] manages to be achingly sad and joyful at the same time. Its heart is true, even if Yuniors isnt.” -Salon
“[A] propulsive new collection… [that] succeeds not only because of the author's gift for exploring the nuances of the male… but because of a writing style that moves with the rhythm and grace of a well-danced merengue.” -Seattle Times
“In Díazs magisterial voice, the trials and tribulations of sex-obsessed objectifiers become a revelation.” -The Boston Globe
“Scooch over, Nathan Zuckerman. New Jersey has bred a new literary bad boy… A.” -Entertainment Weekly
“Ribald, streetwise, and stunningly moving—a testament, like most of his work, to the yearning, clumsy ways young men come of age.” -Vogue
“[An] excellent new collection of stories… [Díaz is] an energetic stylist who expertly moves between high-literary storytelling and fizzy pop, between geek culture and immigrant life, between romance and high drama.” -IndieBound
“Taken together, [these stories] braggadocio softens into something much more vulnerable and devastating. The intimacy and immediacy… is not just seductive but downright conspiratorial… A heartbreaker.” -The Daily Beast
"Díaz manages a seamless blend of high diction and low, of poetry and vulgarity… Look no further for home truths on sex and heartbreak." -The Economist
“This collection of stories, like everything else [Díaz has] written, feels vital in the literal sense of the word. Tough, smart, unflinching, and exposed, This is How You Lose Her is the perfect reminder of why Junot Díaz won the Pulitzer Prize… [He] writes better about the rapid heartbeat of urban life than pretty much anyone else." -The Christian Science Monitor
“Filled with Díazs signature searing voice, loveable/despicable characters and so-true-it-hurts goodness.” -Flavorwire
“Díaz writes with subtle and sharp brilliance… He dazzles us with his language skills and his story-making talents, bringing us a narrative that is starkly vernacular and sophisticated, stylistically complex and direct… A spectacular read.” -Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"[This is How You Lose Her] has maturity in content, if not in ethical behavior… Díazs ability to be both conversational and formal, eloquent and plainspoken, to say brilliant things Trojan-horsed in slang and self-deprecation, has a way of making you put your guard completely down and be effected in surprising and powerful ways." -The Rumpus
“As tales of relationship redemption go, each of the nine relatable short stories in Junot Díaz's consummate collection This Is How You Lose Her triumphs… Through interrogative second-person narration and colloquial language peppered with Spanish, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author authentically captures Junior's cultural and emotional dualities.” -Metro
“Searing, sometimes hilarious, and always disarming… Readers will remember why everyone wants to write like Díaz, bring him home, or both. Raw and honest, these stories pulsate with raspy ghetto hip-hop and the subtler yet more vital echo of the human heart.” -Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Díazs standout fiction remains pinpoint, sinuous, gutsy, and imaginative… Each taut tale of unrequited and betrayed love and family crises is electric with passionate observations and off-the-charts emotional and social intelligence… Fast-paced, unflinching, complexly funny, street-talking tough, perfectly made, and deeply sensitive, Díazs gripping stories unveil lives shadowed by prejudice and poverty and bereft of reliable love and trust. These are precarious, unappreciated, precious lives in which intimacy is a lost art, masculinity a parody, and kindness, reason, and hope struggle to survive like seedlings in a war zone.” -Booklist (starred review)
“Díazs third book is as stunning as its predecessors. These stories are hard and sad, but in Díazs hands they also crackle.” -Library Journal (starred review)
“Magnificent… an exuberant rendering of the driving rhythms and juicy Spanglish vocabulary of immigrant speech… sharply observed and morally challenging.” -Kirkus
“A beautifully stirring look at ruined relationships and lost love—and a more than worthy follow-up to [Díazs] 2007 Pulitzer winner, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” -Bookpage
"In This Is How You Lose Her, Díaz writes with subtlety and grace, once again demonstrating his remarkable facility for developing fully-realized and authentic characters with an economical rawness... Díaz skillfully portrays his protagonist so vividly, and with so much apparent honesty, that Yuniors voice comes across with an immediacy that never once feels inauthentic." -California Literary Review
"Díaz continues to dazzle with his dynamite, street-bruised wit. The bass line of this collection is a thumpingly raw and sexual foray into lives that claw against poverty and racism. It is a wild rhythm that makes more vivid the collections heart-busted steadiness." -Dallas Morning News
This is the long-awaited first novel from one of the most original and memorable writers working today.
Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fuk the curse that has haunted the Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.
Diaz immerses us in the tumultuous life of Oscar and the history of the family at large, rendering with genuine warmth and dazzling energy, humor, and insight the Dominican-American experience, and, ultimately, the endless human capacity to persevere in the face of heartbreak and loss. A true literary triumph, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao confirms Junot Diaz as one of the best and most exciting voices of our time.
The long-awaited and thrillingly satisfying, genuinely original first novel from the unmistakable voice behind the story collection Drown.
The long-awaited--and thrillingly satisfying, genuinely original--first novel from the unmistakable voice behind the story collection "Drown."
Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister—dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fukú—a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere—and risk it all—in the name of love.
Listen to Junot Díaz’s interview on iTunes “Meet the Author” here.
Download iTunes here.
This is the long-awaited first novel from one of the most original and memorable writers working today.
Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fukœ-the curse that has haunted the Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.
D’az immerses us in the tumultuous life of Oscar and the history of the family at large, rendering with genuine warmth and dazzling energy, humor, and insight the Dominican-American experience, and, ultimately, the endless human capacity to persevere in the face of heartbreak and loss. A true literary triumph, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao confirms Junot Diaz as one of the best and most exciting voices of our time.
The long-awaited-and thrillingly satisfying, genuinely original- first novel from the unmistakable voice behind the story collection Drown.
A must-have collector's edition of Junot Dand#237;azand#8217;s bestseller and National Book Award finalist, brilliantly illustrated
A major New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the National Book Award, This Is How You Lose Her is Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Dand#237;azand#8217;s celebration of love in all its facetsand#151;obsessive love, illicit love, fading love, maternal love. For this gorgeous new edition, Jaime Hernandezand#151;deemed and#147;one of the twentieth centuryand#8217;s most significant comic creatorsand#8221;and#151;has crafted stunning full-page illustrations, one for each story, that brilliantly capture the love-haunted spirit of the book and of the gutsy women whom irrepressible, irresistible Yunior loves and loses. A true work of art, inside and out, this is a keepsake that fans will treasure and new readers will delight in discovering.
About the Author
Junot Diaz's fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The Best American Short Stories. His debut story collection, Drown, was a publishing sensation of unprecedented acclaim, became a national bestseller, won numerous awards, and is now a landmark of contemporary literature. He was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, and now lives in New York City and Boston, where he teaches at MIT.