You Should Read Junot Diaz

2 by diaz

If you’ve been inside a bookstore the last few years then you already know you should read Junot Diaz.  He’s been everywhere since Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar  Wao netted him a Pulitzer and a National Book Critics Circle Award (if you’re reading this from outside the book business and haven’t heard of the second award, then you’re forgiven; just know that prestige-wise, if the National Book Award is like an Oscar then the National Book Critics Circle Award is like a Golden Globe).

He didn’t drop from the sky like a lit bomb, though.  Before critics noticed him, his short story collection Drown was delighting readers for just over a decade.

I can’t exactly recall what I loved about Drown all these years later.  I remember sitting in an airport after I turned the final page, staring into space, content to wait another hour for my layover – to do nothing but sit and wait.  That activity didn’t feel like it normally does, which is a mind-crawling feeling of “nothing to do.”  It felt like I needed a moment before I could resume my normal life.  Make of that what you will.

Here are two quotes from This is How You Lose Her that struck me:

She wasn’t at her lowest then but she was aiming there.


These were not the sort of questions that had answers.

There’s so much contained in those sentences that they’re almost poetry, yet they’re simple and readable.  Open to any page of This is How You Lose Her and whatever is happening will suck you in.  It has plenty of characters on their way to becoming something else, and questions too complicated, painful, or absurd for answers.


Stuff I learned:

Frank Frazetta –  artist best known for his covers of “Conan the Barbarian” books.

Georgina Duluc – Miss Dominican Republic 1997.  Here’s a link for… citation purposes.

Pelagic  – of or relating to open oceans or seas (as in “pelagic sadness” – nice)


3 thoughts on “You Should Read Junot Diaz

  1. Frank Frazetta rules! (I know that sounds a bit common, but so be it; he does). Without his cover art to influence me, I’d have never picked up a Conan paperback (my first real foray into literature)…being quite content to just read the Marvel comic books!
    So, in an odd, round-about kinda way, he influenced me to be a writer…weird huh?

    So if you’re reading this (and I know you are): thanks Frank!


    • My father had a shelf of paperbacks in the TV room downstairs that was altogether different than the hardcovers stacked around the living room. I remember staring at those covers for hours when I was a kid.

      By the time I got around to opening books – they had stories inside! – those Conans (and occasional Max Brand Arthur Conan Doyle) been sold off in one garage sale or another.


  2. I bought the first one, then bummed the next ten or so from my buddy. Though they’re worse for wear, I think I still have them somewhere; my buddy’s included! Hopefully he has forgotten or forgiven me by now… 😦


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