Author: Junot Diaz
Pages: 213 (paperback)
Published: August 2012
Published by: Faber & Faber
The eagerly awaited new collection from Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize-winner and bestselling author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
Junot Díaz's first book, Drown, established him as a major new literary voice - 'a strong, fresh, authentic talent' (Hanif Kureishi) - and his first novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao topped bestseller lists. His new collection, This Is How You Lose Her, is about the haunting, impossible power of love - passionate love, illicit love, fading love, maternal love.
On a beach in Santo Domingo, a doomed relationship flounders; in the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover's washing and thinks about his wife; in Boston, a man buys his love-child, his only son, his first baseball kit. At the centre of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible voice of Yunior, a young Dominican finding his way in New Jersey. As he and his family persist through broken promises, broken hearts and painful longing, passion, as always, triumphs over experience.
In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender and funny, This Is How You Lose Her lays bare the infinite longing and inevitable weaknesses of the human heart.
I won this book from the lovely people over at Dewey's 24-hour read-a-thon, and it wasn't quite what I was expecting. I didn't realise it was a series of short stories, expecting more of a Love Actually inter-connected thing to be going on. And if I had...well, I tend not to read short stories because I don't like the constant switching and changing.
But not all the stories were unrelated: most of them were about Yunior and various relationships he has throughout his life, though not in chronological order so it takes a bit of effort to get it all in the right order in your head, holding what you know has already happened (or will happen) and trying to fit the next story in with what you've already read.
The central character of each story is from Santo Domingo - the capital of the Dominican Republic - but currently living in New York city. The are all bilingual, slipping into their native Spanish for odd words or sentences here and there. This is nice and authentic I know, but my Spanish is woeful, so for the odd words it didn't really matter that I didn't understand what it meant, but the full sentences caused more issue. Yeah, I could have had like Google translate open next to me, but I didn't want to be breaking off doing that what would have been every few minutes in places. This aside, it was a relatively easy book to read: I never actually struggled with the writing itself.
The stories themselves were enjoyable enough, all looking at failed or difficult relationships, most of them revolving around cheating. Is this a cultural thing? I don't know many people who've had relationships end because of cheating, and it is certainly stated a number of times than Santo Domingo men tend to be like that so maybe. Still, it did present a pretty dismal view of relationships. Which I suppose I should have seen coming given the title, but there you go! A little more variation may have made it slightly more interesting for me: after a while, if it didn't state straight off that they were cheating I was waiting for it to happen.
So while it was a good book and probably deserves a higher rating, with one thing and another it just wasn't particularly for me, unfortunately.
Since I won this book I decided to pass it forward! If you would like to win this book (in very good condition - I try my very hardest to look after my books!) just leave a comment below. I'll leave it open for two weeks and then randomly select a winner!