Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Drown” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.03  ·  Rating details ·  32,578 ratings  ·  2,447 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 thems ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 1st 1997 by Riverhead Books (first published December 25th 1995)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Drown, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Hailee DeLuca Really depends on the reader. This reading was required for my high school English class and there were uncomfortable scenes and even the characters' …moreReally depends on the reader. This reading was required for my high school English class and there were uncomfortable scenes and even the characters' ways of speaking sparked discomfort.

I wouldn't recommend this collection for anyone under twelve but if you can't handle the material, you'll know within the first few pages.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  32,578 ratings  ·  2,447 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Drown
Paul Bryant
Feb 02, 2008 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 19, 2007 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
May 18, 2010 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:) re-read.

This is my first foray into the infamous short story terrain animated by Junot Diaz. Yes- his first novel was outstanding, & 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 Amer
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 coloni ...more
It's easy to get so caught up in the misogyny of this story that you miss the point, but How to Date a Brown Girl is not just what it seems on the surface. It's not just a teenage playboy giving advice on how to get in the pants of a black girl, brown girl, white girl, or halfie. Junot Diaz always delves deeper than that. He shows us the protagonist's vulnerability through the boy's own attempts at seeming macho.

This story is mostly about a young man's personal self-hatred and the shame he has
Jun 10, 2010 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
Jul 17, 2007 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
Dave Schaafsma
A delight, from a master of stories, and you can hear him read it here in maybe five minutes.

We start with some things to make sure you do to avoid a bad impression:

Clear the government cheese from the refrigerator. If the girl’s from the Terrace, stack the boxes in the crisper. If she’s from the Park or Society Hill, then hide the cheese in the cabinet above the oven, where she’ll never see it. Leave a reminder under your pillow to get out the cheese before morning or
R.K. Gold
Apr 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Full review to follow
He’s an amazing writer but the story wasn’t nearly as captivating as brief and wondrous life so I couldn’t give it the full 4 stars.
Dec 12, 2008 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?!
Mattia Ravasi
Sep 07, 2016 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.
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
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 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
Sep 19, 2007 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 (predictab ...more
Sep 14, 2012 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
Jul 24, 2008 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
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
These stories - about Yunior and his family in the Dominican Republic and New Jersey are so, so good. In a shattering, explosive way. Now that I've read his three books, I just hope Diaz publishes another novel or short story collection soon. ...more
Dec 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-fiction
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
Apr 30, 2014 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
May 07, 2008 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
mis fit
May 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
at some points, i really enjoyed this book. but i just couldn't get past the way a lot of the female characters are treated. maybe i just didn't get it, but i would have liked to read a story about the mother's experiences, more so than about the cheating father ...more
Evan Leach
This is a very strong debut collection. Díaz’s prose is a real pleasure to read, his characters are interesting and multi-dimensional, and his stories are well crafted. My favorites were perhaps Fiesta, 1980 and Negocios, but almost all of the stories were good to very good.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is one of my favorite Pulitzer winners of the 21st century. These ten stories don't deliver quite the same mix of humor and emotional punch that made Oscar Wao so special, but they are qui
Nicholas Armstrong
Apr 26, 2010 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
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
He always gets it right. Goddamn.
Faisal Pakkali
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
After reading the first short story in Junot Diaz’s collection “Drown’, I went on to the internet to browse for reviews. To be frank, I didn’t understand any of them. The reviews talk about issues of identity in the context of the immigrant experience and all that jazz. However the story still stuck with me despite my lack of knowledge of the Dominican Republic and the urban communities of New Jersey.

The story is basically about two brothers, Rafa and Yunior who become fascinated by a boy named
Jinny Chung
Mar 24, 2012 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
Apr 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, new-york
Here is another literary star that has gotten a lot of attention in recent years. Diaz is a Dominican-American, raised in Washington Heights, NYC. This story cycle centers on one Dominican family that is split between Upper Manhattan and Santo Domingo. Each story shows a different facet of the life of this family, with the focus primarily on the young man known as Junior (or “Yunior”). This is really good, enjoyable writing, even if some of it does seem to have the stamp of an MFA writing studen ...more
May 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Kinda funny. Very stereotypical

This was a short story. I ran across a podcast of the author reading it as a part of a radio series broadcast back in 1995 by The Newyorker and decided to give it a listen.

This is a guide on how to date girls from the perspective of a teenage Dominican boy living in New Jersey. So on that note, it's not really a guide but a point of view. It's actually more like what this kid, who thinks he is some suave expert would tell his boys about dating high school girl
Aug 03, 2008 rated it did not like it
There's nothing to care about in a single story in this book. Each story picks up randomly and drops off randomly. Skip it. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Cover to Cover: Drown 1 2 May 20, 2019 08:49PM  
Drowning in Drown? 6 56 Jan 29, 2015 08:25PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Koetsier Herfst
  • Sînt alta
  • How the García Girls Lost Their Accents
  • Down These Mean Streets
  • Breath, Eyes, Memory
  • Arabian Jazz
  • كل عام وأنت حبيبتي
  • With Animal
  • Entropy
  • Our Only Home: A Climate Appeal to the World
  • Between the World and Me
  • 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day
  • Dreaming in Cuban
  • Letters of Transit: Reflections on Exile, Identity, Language, and Loss
  • When I Was Puerto Rican
  • The Woman Warrior
See similar books…
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

Related Articles

Author, journalist, public intellectual, and (in recent years) comic book writer, Ta-Nehisi Coates is an Extremely Busy Person by any metric, and...
100 likes · 30 comments
“Sometimes you just have to try, even if you know it won’t work.” 68 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.” 48 likes
More quotes…