This Is How You Lose Her
Riverhead, $26.95, 213 pp.
Junot Díaz’s fiction alternately unsettles, amuses, challenges, delights, and wounds. His new collection of stories, This Is How You Lose Her, is especially wounding, playing nine variations on the theme of faithless Dominican-American men and the women they betray. Díaz doesn’t moralize—if anything he plays down-and-dirty with the sex lives of his characters. He has always been a provocateur, albeit one who presents himself as a realistic writer simply delivering the news, straight-up, about the Dominican-American scene. But though these narratives may appear at first to spring from the tradition of the minimalist American short story (Hemingway begets Carver begets Díaz), beneath their simple surface boils a rich cultural stew. Every story is informed by a strange, slant sensibility, the mark of a true original.
All but one feature Díaz’s charming and infuriating alter ego, Yunior, who figured prominently in the author’s first collection, Drown, and in his Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Yunior is a smart Dominican boy, confident but self-aware, who comes of age in a snow-covered New Jersey so foreign it might as well be the moon....