Junot Díaz is one of the writers I kept reading over the years. Since I deeply loved The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This Is How You Lose Her, I wanted to discover more of his work and ordered one of his short story collections, DROWN. Knowing his life story from previous readings, I could see even from the beginning that it is an autobiographical book about the Dominican-American author. This volume is a symbol of how Dominican immigrants, and by generalization we can simply say immigrants, attempt to find meaning of the American Dream after immigrating to America.
The 10 intense stories, narrated by a Dominican adolescent living in a struggling urban community of New Jersey, portray young people waiting for transformation, waiting to become, waiting to belong. Díaz describes a world with absent fathers, silent mothers and friends of questionable principles and morals. Lots of frustration, poverty, and uncertainty. Based on the author’s life, his debut collection is vibrant, disturbing, each chapter representing different moments in the lives of the characters who grow over the course of the novel. Yunior, the narrator, regardless of the period in which we find him, he is always disoriented, in search of love and stability in a hostile world. He is the clear proof of how the next generation inherits habits and uncertainties. Even more in the context of the instability dictated by the immigration status.
A world in which people are always redefining their American identity. A world in which people are always looking to (re)define themselves. Sometimes, we are all drowning, struggling to come to the surface of life.
♦ Sometimes you just have to try, even if you know it won’t work.
♦ 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.
♦ I never wanted to be away from the family. Intuitively, I knew how easily distances could harden and become permanent.
♦ Run a hand through your hair, like the white boys do, even though the only thing that runs easily through your hair is Africa.
♦ She had reason to doubt him; he was real good at planning but real bad at doing.
♦ You know how it is when you get back with somebody you’ve loved. It felt better than it ever was, better than it ever could be again.
♦ She smelled like herself, like the wind through a tree.
♦ But love teaches you. Clears your head of any rules.
♦ What can you do? Tomás said. Life smacks everybody around.