Book Review - You Cheat

Friday, September 28, 2012

"This Is How You Lose Her," by Junot Diaz. Riverhead, 213 pp. $26.95.

Junot Diaz returns from his massively successful "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" with a new collection of short stories, titled "This Is How You Lose Her."

Each of the eight stories centers around one relationship from protagonist Yunior. There's the fiery Magdalena, who believes that all men are Dominican men are cheaters, in the title story. There's Nilda, who really belonged to Rafa, Yunior's brother, but who still shares a special connection to him. There's Miss Lorna, the older woman Yunior can't seem to separate himself from. And last, though maybe first, there's the one woman, the "ex," who began the entire charade of women.

"This Is How You Lose Her," is simultaneously literary and grimy, a product both of the streets and of a cultured mind.

Diaz is Dominican, the same heritage as Yunior, and the subtle nuances inserted into each story give them authenticity. Only Diaz can create stories like this.

As each story progresses, so does the character of Yunior. In "Nilda," Rafa contracts cancer and separates himself from the rest of the family. In "Invierno," his family faces their first winter in the United States, and his father takes him to a barber for a shaved head, because his hair is too curly to run a comb through. Each of these stories, just as each of the women he meets and loves, shapes Yunior into an unforgettable character.

His previous book, "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," published in 2008, won the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize, the National Book Critics Cicle Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

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