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4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  22,942 Ratings  ·  1,924 Reviews
With ten stories that move from the barrios of the Dominican Republic to the struggling urban communities of New Jersey, Junot Diaz makes his remarkable debut. Diaz's work is unflinching and strong, and these stories crackle with an electric sense of discovery. Diaz evokes a world in which fathers are gone, mothers fight with grim determination for their families and ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 1st 1997 by Riverhead Books (first published January 1st 1996)
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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot DíazJesus' Son by Denis JohnsonInterpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa LahiriDrown by Junot DíazBirds of America by Lorrie Moore
Best Reading for the Contemporary Writer
4th out of 92 books — 195 voters
Nine Stories by J.D. SalingerThe Complete Stories and Poems by Edgar Allan PoeA Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'ConnorDubliners by James JoyceThe Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
Collections of Short Stories
80th out of 2,225 books — 1,643 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Paul Bryant
Sep 08, 2011 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
As when you're listening to some old piece of music you never thought much of, it could be a long ago seemingly throwaway pop dance number like This Old Heart of Mine by the Isley Brothers, or some slyer more college-degreed album track like (let's say) Life During Wartime by Talking Heads, and you suddenly jump up and think but - but really, this is a masterpiece! - it's not just another painting-by-numbers from Motown, it's not just another sneery too-clever construction you skip while you're ...more
Jun 23, 2007 Myfanwy rated it it was amazing
There are several recurrent themes running through this collection (the lost father, the regained father, the lost love, brotherhood, betrayal--often sexual) but the one I found most striking was that of facelessness.

You would think that facelessness is synonymous with invisibility, but here it is not. There is something within that facelessness, which makes the person all the more visible--scorned, pitied, hated, feared, and by some, treated with great kindness. The faced want the faceless to
Oct 17, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it
Yeah, yeah, once you get the Pulitzer your earlier works may be scavenged & retold and republished and possibly (if you ARE the literatti:) reread.

This is my first foray into the infamous short story terrain animated by Junot Diaz. Yes- his first novel was outstanding, and just its level of genius is constantly debated: everyone is aware it's really f***in' good.

"Drown" is endearing. An autobiography of ten short stories that are exquisite maps into the writer's early life in the D.R. and in
There's this white boy in the class that assigned this collection taking pot shots at it for misogyny, which is real easy when you're white and male and your eyes glaze over how deeply white girls and their white skin and their white features inspire both veneration and self-hatred. Objectification, to an extent, but when white's the standard of beauty and safety and the Dominican Republic's the name of the game, either you talk imperialism and intercommunity issues or you're just another ...more
Jun 15, 2010 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't do it. I can't listen to books on tape.

Listening to tapes allows me one opportunity--one time only--to experience the writing. That's not my paradigm. It's not the way I've grown to experience books. I need to look at the physical words--they mean something. I need to reread sentences and paragraphs. I need to touch pages and manipulate the weight and rectilinear dimensions of the book. I need to interpret and define and orient and catalog the story into my own retrievable cranial netwo
Aug 22, 2007 Stace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Humans
I was lucky enough to have seen Junot Diaz read, and that cabròn was hilarious! His talk was fresh, lewd, direct, sly, sweet, and honest. Exactly like his writing. He spoke of how Hip Hop had informed his life and work, and how a writer must use experience to shape their art; auto-biography and fiction helix together. His street talk and easy manner reminded me of the slick Mexican kids I grew up with(with due respect for the differences in Latino cultures). No amount of vernacular speech could ...more
Dec 12, 2008 Malbadeen rated it it was amazing
The cursor keeps blinking at me, daring me to try and convey the magnitude of love I have for Diaz's writing but I can't...I'm a failure!

Every story needs is filled with sentences/dialogue that are gaspably good. My fovorite sentence in the collection is from the story, How To Date a Brown Girl, Black Girl, White Girl or Halfie. It is as follows:
"Run a hand through your hair, like the white boys do, even though the only thing that runs easily through your hair is Africa".

See what I mean?!
I fail to understand what all the hoopla is all about with this book.

Its one thing to write a book where all the characters are stereotypes or have no positive qualities but to "Drown" the reader(See, what I did there: D) in a story that really is not credible nor really reflects the ethos of immigrants experience is completely irresponsible. To me, it felt like the writer is using "sensationalism" and the erotic lure of the "Latino" culture, to get critics raving for his lack luster material.

Ana Maria Rînceanu
This book is made out of short stories, but they all explore Yunior's experience as a Dominican Republic immigrant, his relationship with his family, the idea of masculinity, race and women. The writing makes this book stand out, Yunior's life being a fairly average one. It just sticks with you and pops in my head unexpectedly. It's not plot heavy, but focuses on the main character and how he interacts with others.

I like how the events are not portrayed in order, because the author uses this to
Apr 14, 2009 Madeline rated it really liked it
Ten short stories about growing up first in the Dominican Republic and then New Jersey. It reminded me a litte of Sherman Alexie's stories, albeit a little less poetic. But still very well done. We discussed "How To Date A Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie" at particular length in my fiction writing class, so I'll quote one of my favorite bits from that story:
"Clear the government cheese from the refrigerator. If the girl's from the Terrace stack the boxes behind the milk. If she's fro
Oct 10, 2012 Tony rated it really liked it
I shelve my fiction alphabetized by author’s last name, each author’s works further displayed in chronological publishing order. Presidential biographies start with Washington and travel in order to Obama. Histories stands pretty much as they occurred. Not exactly OCD, but the nuns can certainly be proud of the order they instilled. So I can’t explain why, when I open a book of short stories for the first time, I do not read them in order.

I jumped around here, although I did read the final stor
Matt Eckel
Sep 19, 2007 Matt Eckel rated it it was amazing
One of the coolest things that ever happened to me was I got to participate in a creative writing workshop with Junot Diaz. My girlfriend was in the class also, which was the first time we had a class together. We had been living together for a little while, and even though we were very much in love at the time, whe would do certain shit that really got on my nerves, like for example always being late (as in over an hour late!) for everything. So on the first day of class, she came in ...more
mark monday
read during my Punk Rock Flophouse Years

I Remember: linked stories about growing up in the Dominican Republic and then New Jersey... a writing style that is rather tight, clean, stripped-down, deadpan... i would have preferred a looser, rowdier writing style... a narrative that is alive and fresh, with scenes that should jump off the page, and sometimes do... feels real... some surprising charm, many laugh-out-loud moments... and yet it feels somehow minor note - i guess that's life... oh no, am
Jan 12, 2016 Josh rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
An insight into poverty, family matters and ordinary life intertwined amongst several stories. Junot's anecdotes range from the barren streets of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in or around the time of Operation Power Pack, the everlasting-but-rewarding fight for the so-called 'American Dream' in Nueva York, Nueva York and a glimpse into the 'la loco' life of teenagers and their vices in Perth Amboy/South Amboy, New Jersey.

The main themes to me are the struggle of a woman forced to ignore her
Jan 31, 2015 Maxwell rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-fiction, 2015
4.5 stars

I'm really amazed at Junot Diaz's ability to create such a richly imagined and realistic history of a fictional character. Yunior, the central character of most, if not all, of these short stories, appears in Diaz's other works, This Is How You Lose Her and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I think this shows remarkable skill for a debut collection, and to have all this story built up in his mind that flows over into his other works is amazing.

I definitely recommend starting with th
Aug 05, 2008 Bart rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Anyone who doesn't plan to read Oscar Wao
If you haven’t already read this book, there’s really no need. Most of its best parts are recycled in Oscar Wao. A man without a face, people shuffling between Santo Domingo and New Jersey, some early experimenting in Junot Diaz’s “original voice”.

The toughest part of reading Diaz is trying not to put his critics’ opinions in front of Diaz’s words. Trying to separate Diaz’s at-times honest efforts from the hysterical effect they have on certain literary types is hard sledding. It’s not fair to t
May 12, 2008 Daniel rated it it was amazing
WOW! Just freaking wow!!!

I picked this book up because I enjoyed The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. When I started to read it, I thought that this felt like a handful of failed starts to similar novels. But the further that I read into it, the more I realized what it was that Junot Diaz was doing, painting a complete picture out of multiple fractured pieces.

The writing in this book is remarkably sparse, short with details and full of space where you are asked to interject your own imaginatio
Mattia Ravasi
Nov 29, 2016 Mattia Ravasi rated it really liked it

Stories of cultures clashing and life sucking between the Dominican Republic and New Jersey. The stories are hard-hitting and Diaz writes like a motherfucker - almost too well for a project so simple.
Shawn (ThatOneEnglishGradStudent)
4.5 stars

I think this is some of the finest prose I've ever read. The fact that Drown is a debut book blows my mind. The stories feel honest, sometimes brutally so; the characters, from the repeated protagonist and narrator, Yunior, to Yunior's father, to the woman in "Edison, New Jersey," seem like fully realized human beings; and Diaz's mastery of language is astounding, not only his code-switching, but the innovative English phrasing as well.

I can't wait to make my way through Diaz's other tw
Oct 04, 2013 Lauren rated it it was amazing
So I read this out of order—started with Oscar Wao and then This is How You Lose Her, so not sure if that influences my view of this book (though, in my opinion, all of Diaz’s writing is extraordinary…so perhaps it doesn’t matter). I know this review will in no way do any of his work justice…but I’ll take a stab at it anyway, if only for the fact that a writer like this deserves the time and effort.

I’ll start with Yunior, simply because he is the heart of this book. I’m guessing most women don’t
Nicholas Armstrong
Jul 07, 2012 Nicholas Armstrong rated it it was ok
It's a point of contention with me when authors ignore grammar. That isn't to say I'm against authorial intent -- not using a comma or using one for emphasis -- but when some are just tossed out lackadaisically I have to wonder why.

There are moments in Drown where there is no reason not to use the proper grammar, and being a big fan of the impact grammar can have on a reader (when used correctly) this irks me. Why do (or not do) something if it has no effect? It just seems lazy to me. On the ot
Jul 13, 2015 Mat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book had a wonderful gritty restrained tension about it. Imagine you shatter a mirror but that mirror represents your life or fragments of memories of your life which you start to pick up and re-assemble into a mangled collage. That's what Drown felt like to me. Poignant, heart-felt, bitter, poetic, lascivious, disdainful are just some of the adjectives that don't even begin to do justice in describing how good and how powerful a writer Diaz is.
Boy look out. This guy is going to be big. He
Jinny Chung
Aug 07, 2014 Jinny Chung rated it really liked it
Shelves: love-love-love
I feel a closeness to Junot Díaz that I don't with most authors. There's something so familiar and inviting about his prose; when I read it, I'm transported there. "I can totally hear him saying that!" The people in his novels are So Real to me, and when he talks coming-of-age, all his characters are versions of the people from my childhood.

Junot, please write more. I require more than just this and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. How it is you make us laugh and cry as cathartically as you
Elli (The Bibliophile)
Mar 21, 2016 Elli (The Bibliophile) rated it really liked it
This was a really good collection of short stories that follow Dominican and dominican-American characters and their day to day lives. About half of the stories are narrated by Yunior, the narrator of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and the stories not narrated by him are often somehow connected to him or his family.

As usual, Junot Diaz's writing style is just great. The stories all flowed well, with great pacing. I really enjoyed how conversations were integrated into the prose, without
May 22, 2016 Jean rated it really liked it
These are well written stories. On one hand, they seem as if they could be autobiographical but then again they seem to be snippets taken from various protagonist's lives. I think what I come away with is a great read about people's sorrows and hard times while trying to make themselves better. However, Diaz so adroitly writes these stories that I did not feel depressed or maudlin reading any of them. He writes the stories, bam, you have it this is what it is. No apologies, no synpathy ...more
Like The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Yunior is a key character here, and the main character/voice in all but a story or two. I very much enjoyed these stories, and Diaz's writing style. It's visual and gritty, which fits well with the content. For example: "with the sun sliding out of the sky like spit off a wall."

The focus of the stories as a group is on race, being from the DR in America/becoming American, poverty, and family struggles. The family issues revolve mostly around Yunior's d
Ms. Wayne
From Publishers Weekly

The 10 tales in this intense debut collection plunge us into the emotional lives of people redefining their American identity. Narrated by adolescent Dominican males living in the struggling communities of the Dominican Republic, New York and New Jersey, these stories chronicle their outwardly cool but inwardly anguished attempts to recreate themselves in the midst of eroding family structures and their own burgeoning sexuality. The best pieces, such as "Aguantando" (to end
Apr 26, 2009 Kate rated it really liked it
Compulsively readable novelistic book of short stories, raw and crude and tender all at once. Diaz has this wonderful ultra-subtle way of revealing tenderness in rough characters. Had to give a star off for the last chapter - this book kinda reminded me of "Nowhere Man" in that you get the feeling he cops out at the end, turns away from the main character and towards a hesitant imagining of his father's life. I didn't expect a happy, tidy ending, but I expected something a little more ...more
Mar 11, 2014 Gearóid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow!This was just brilliant!
I have read all Junot Diaz's books now this one was just awesome.
I think i have read them in the wrong order and should have read
this book first.Ah well,save the best for last!
The way he writes just sucks you right in and you feel really
a part of this world so different from my own life and connect
with the characters instantly.
This book is just so full of life and energy and sadness at times.
Junot Diaz is some gifted writer.
I hope he writes more books soon.
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Drowning in Drown? 6 43 Jan 29, 2015 08:25PM  
Half way! 2 15 Jul 23, 2014 05:43PM  
Done 2 12 Jul 23, 2014 05:43PM  
Finished the book! 2 11 Jul 23, 2014 05:42PM  
Drown 3 26 Jul 23, 2014 05:42PM  
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Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Drown; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud ...more
More about Junot Díaz...

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“Sometimes you just have to try, even if you know it won’t work.” 58 likes
“Tell her that you love her hair, that you love her skin, her lips, because, in truth, you love them more than you love your own.” 40 likes
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