The stories in This is How You Lose Her are so intricately linked that I didn’t even realize they were stories. Until I brought up the book at a recent library meeting, I thought I had been reading a novel, and just couldn’t figure out how the middle section (a story called “Otravida, Otravez”) fit in with the rest.
With the exception of “Otravida, Otravez,” all the stories feature Yunior, a character from author and MIT professor Junot Díaz’s other books, Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Each story offers a window into his life at a different time, but each time, he’s engaging in what Díaz called in a PBS interview “dumbass behavior.” Yunior does mess up a lot, but I thought some of the other details in the stories humanized him and rendered him sympathetic. There are glimpses into his troubled childhood in New Jersey, struggles in academia, and throughout, (mostly failed) attempts at relationships with women.
I enjoyed this book; it’s a very quick read, and has inspired me to read more books by Díaz.
-review by Liz Galoozis, Reference Librarian/Research Instruction Coordinator
Read conversations with Junot Díaz at PBS and the Guardian, or check out his website, which includes a list of appearances (mark your calendar for a reading at the Boston Public Library on April 17, 2013).
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Review of the Book
In the novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, the de Leon family tries to overcome a fuku that has cursed their Dominican family through many generations. The believed fuku, or curse and doom of the New World, exemplifies itself in Oscar ‘Wao” de Leon. Oscar is an obese comic-book geek virgin with aspirations to fall in love with a woman and be loved in return. Trying to help him through life is his sister Lola and college roommate, Yunior, who is also the narrator. The novel focuses on all members of the family, showing how their hardships throughout history in the Dominican Republic under ruthless dictator Trujillo, now affect Oscar’s lowly life in New Jersey.
DÃaz does a “wondrous” job in creating his characters, and I wanted to keep reading about them and their fate. The novel weaves through the Dominican and America and the language reflects this, as it is told in a form of Spanglish. If the reader does not know Spanish, he or she may miss out a bit. There are also numerous sci-fi and comic book references that I’m sure I missed but that didn’t subtract from my reading experience; it would only enhance another reader’s. Don’t worry if you don’t know much about the Dominican Republic – Diaz includes humorous footnotes to fill in the reader. I enjoyed the writing and the characters immensely. I felt that the ending did not fully explore the intended themes of love and redemption, but I would recommend this novel.
Is It On the Shelves?
Review by Donna Bacchiocchi, manager of technical services at the Bentley College Library.