After 16 years of crafting a literary masterpiece, Pulitzer Prize winning Dominican-American author Junot Díaz has finally released his latest book, “This is How You Lose Her.”
For fans of Diaz’ work, this means another collection of raw, direct, and often charming, short stories. For first-time readers, this is a chance to experience what has been mesmerizing the literary senses of fiction lovers worldwide.
Díaz reintroduces us to a familiar name from his first works, “Drown,” and “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” The twist is Yunior de las Casas has transformed from that chubby Dominican kid in New Jersey, to a full-grown mujeriego.
In nine stories Yunior’s life unfolds. We witness the loss of his brother Rafa, the spiritual journey of his grieving mother, and his countless failed relationships.
In the first story, “The Sun, The Moon, The Stars,” Yunior sets a candid tone. The first line reads: “I’m not a bad guy… I’m like everybody else: weak, full of mistakes, but basically good.” Eventually Yunior is forced to stop excusing his adulterous ways when a previous lover mails a tell-all letter to his girlfriend Magdalena. He manages to sweet talk her into going on a vacation with him in order to patch things up, but after they return, the two never see each other again.
Yunior continues this pattern of cheating, begging for forgiveness, and ultimately being left alone.
Fortunately, this is not all the book offers. Díaz tries his hand at a new perspective in “Otravida, Otravez.” Yasmin is a newly immigrated Dominican woman who lives in a roach infested house and sorts through soiled sheets for a hospital. She is also having an affair with a married man. Some reviews note Yasmin as a character Díaz should continue to develop. I agree, not because her voice was conveyed so well, but that it could be better. It is evident that she is a female character written by a male. Nevertheless, Díaz does an excellent job of making her vulnerable and confused just like Yunior.
If you are looking for a fairy-tale love story, this is not your book. “This is How You Lose Her” covers all aspects of love: the good, the bad, and the sucio.