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Drown

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  16,773 ratings  ·  1,582 reviews
"This stunning collection of stories offers an unsentimental glimpse of life among the immigrants from the Dominican Republic--and other front-line reports on the ambivalent promise of the American dream--by an eloquent and original writer who describes more than physical dislocation in conveying the price that is paid for leaving culture and homeland behind." --San Franci ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 1st 1997 by Riverhead Trade (first published 1996)
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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot DíazJesus' Son by Denis JohnsonInterpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa LahiriOrchard of Dust by Brian Edward BahrBirds of America by Lorrie Moore
Best Reading for the Contemporary Writer
6th out of 80 books — 163 voters
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezLove in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezThe House of the Spirits by Isabel AllendeLike Water for Chocolate by Laura EsquivelThe Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Latina/Latino Fiction
53rd out of 432 books — 715 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paul
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
Myfanwy
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
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Jason
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
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Stace
Aug 22, 2007 Stace rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Malbadeen
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?!
Louisa
Juno Diaz is the man. I love the way he writes, the way he combines both literary and urban/street language is compelling, endearing, fresh and exciting. I can't seem to get enough of his stories. I want more.
Tony
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
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Madeline
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
...more
Matt Eckel
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 (predictab ...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
...more
Daniel
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
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Nicholas Armstrong
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
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Bart
Aug 05, 2008 Bart rated it 2 of 5 stars
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
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Lauren
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
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Jinny Chung
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
...more
Monique

Originally posted here.

When I finished reading Drown last year, I felt a little sad. See, it was the last Junot Diaz book I will read until he publishes a new one, so reading the last pages and finally closing the book turning off my Kindle (who, incidentally, is named after a Junot Diaz character) felt like saying goodbye to a really good friend. And I’m not referring to Junot Diaz.

Drown is a collection of short stories principally featuring young immigrants from the Dominican Republic. The t
...more
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
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Jean
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 required. ...more
Kate
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 penetratin ...more
Gary
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.
Josh Bratton
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
...more
Masanaka Takashima
I guess I failed to taste the biggest charm when I first read this story. I was trying very hard to build my English comprehension around that time (I'm blushing...) , and my attitude was rather static and intolerable about dynamic but untidy writings like this. Still, I feel something attractive in the story --- percussive language, quick changes of sequences... I’ll try to give it another go when I’m ready. Till then, I’ll keep three stars.
Amy
having grown up in a spanish speaking home, his mix of english and spanish is a throw back to when i was a kid listening to the grown ups talk, only now it's easier to translate. his short stories were very touching and sometimes a little shocking, but good. and the complicated family unit makes you feel better about your own (more often then not) upbringing. i would definitely read more of junot diaz.
Daniel
There's nothing to care about in a single story in this book. Each story picks up randomly and drops off randomly. Skip it.
David
There’s something so unique about Díaz’s writing that always draws me back. The themes and even the plots are often the same, but still I devour them voraciously. Few contemporary authors write about love as beautifully or with such introspection, and this alone makes Díaz worth reading, even when the smattering of Spanish and esoteric Dominican jerga become overwhelming. These stories are fantastic, but if you find you’re more in the mood for a novel, try Díaz’s Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘The Brie ...more
Trevor Doren
I really enjoyed this book. It is not a book I would have normally picked up but I am glad I did. Drown contains ten short stories depicting the experience Diaz had as a Dominican immigrant in America. Diaz moved from the Dominican Republic to American when he was six and uses his own story as inspiration for this book. Most of the stories are told through the perspective of "Yunior" who is the alter-ego for Diaz. In all of Yunior's stories he passively views his own life and describes the cultu ...more
Adele
Once, on a bus in Tanzania, I got into a fight about the movie "Crash". The fight was pretty silly, but I still got upset enough to cry about it. The argument was an impassioned debate between me and two of the other kids I was studying abroad with. They thought it was a brilliant important commentary on race and class in America. I thought it was a didactic, simplified, contrived piece of shit.

Drown is lthe opposite of a movie like Crash. Sure, it covers race and class and the failed pursuit o
...more
Amanda
Diaz's writing dazzles. I loved Oscar Wao and picked up Drown, couldn't put it down until I was finished. Now I'm just sorry I forgot the book at my friend's house and can't read it all over again. Drown is a love song to imperfections, a banner in the sky waving praise to human potential, it's a tribute to failure and waking up again the next day anyway. With sharp, clear, tender, sometimes hilarious language, he reveals the layered, textured, heartbreaking inner lives and thoughts of everyday ...more
Andrew
It's a slightly uneven collection, but it's still pretty great. This collection of intertwined stories is set in a far grittier world than that of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. There is a bit of a comic sensibility, but it's definitely muted. Instead, Diaz takes us through the poverty of the slums of the Dominican Republic and the addiction and misery and ruin of post-industrial North Jersey. While it's bleak, he does manage to let a little light in, and when he does, it works.

Oscar Wao
...more
Lynn
Oct 12, 2007 Lynn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Found this on our bookshelves. Can't put it down.

BTW, Diaz has a novel out now, reviewed in this week's NY Times book review.

This was as great as everyone says. Reading it is like a vacation to a place where you meet a lot of local people who are interesting. The twist here is that I at least really don't want to hang with the characters in these stories - the drug dealers and junkies and low-wage workers who in general and understandably don't have much in common or much sympathy with someone l
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Drowning in Drown? 5 24 Jul 24, 2014 12:36AM  
Half way! 2 14 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 24 Jul 23, 2014 05:42PM  
Review of Drown 2 5 Jul 23, 2014 05:42PM  
Drown Review. 2 9 Jul 23, 2014 05:41PM  
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Junot Díaz is a contemporary Dominican-American writer. He moved to the USA with his parents at age six, settling in New Jersey. Central to Díaz's work is the duality of the immigrant experience. He is the first Dominican-born man to become a major author in the United States.

Díaz is creative writing professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Fictio
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More about Junot Díaz...
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao This Is How You Lose Her How to Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie) Miss Lora Ysrael

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“Sometimes you just have to try, even if you know it won’t work.” 42 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.” 27 likes
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