Sunday, October 21, 2012

Review: "Drown" by Junot Diaz

DrownDrown by Junot Díaz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is dirty. It is full of dirty people in dirty places doing and saying dirty things to each other. And yet, it is wholly fascinating. These are disparate tales of a family scraping itself through life on the edge, barely surviving extreme poverty, first in the Dominican Republic and then later in the lower-class immigrant communities of Miami and New York.

The stories themselves are fairly simple, in terms of plot. They generally involve everyday happenings like going to work or to a family party, but through the prism of a family whose relationships are essentially built on distrust and stress. But it's the author's use of language that makes them so fascinating, how he creates images that are both revolting and but gripping at the same time. Diaz is an expert at setting his scenes, and crafts a world that is barely held together, physically or emotionally.

Some of the stories are difficult to read because of their content. There's cruelty, jealousy, drugs, sex and violence on display here, but for readers who can stand it, "Drown" is a fantastic collection.

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