I had the honour of attending Junot Diaz’s author talk at Vancouver’s annual International Writer’s Festival. He was reading excerpts from the first three of the short stories in his latest book, This is How you Lose Her, (The Sun, The Moon, The Stars; Nilda and Alma). I was honestly struck by how emphatically he read his own stories, even more impressed that I remembered his cadences weeks later when I actually sat down to read his book. He is a gifted orator, as well as a storyteller.
As mentioned, this is a collection of short stories. They all feature a young Dominican-American man named Yunior, the narrative persona Diaz uses in most of his work. The main motif of the stories is cheating. Other themes include immigration keeping families apart, patriarchy, racism and colourism.
Why I love this book is that Diaz incorporates so many different style of language in it. In the same paragraph he may use “street-slang”, Spanish expressions, as well as erudite expressions. The way he organizes it is witty and very timely; I burst out laughing more than once while reading the stories.
Why I admire Diaz so much as an author is his need to challenge simplistic knowledge in his books. He says he’s obsessed (his word choice) with patriarchy and by how masculinity interacts in society. His stories also contain colourism issues and during his talk he talked about the prevalence of skin bleaching, what he believed was a result of the power of eurocentrism and was something we despise talking about. In his own words, it’s more hidden that Sauron and Voldermot!
I was able to get my copy of his book, Drown, signed.
Unfortunately I forgot to check the pictures my friend took on my camera and it was only later that I realized they were out of focus:( Only one was “decent.”