After reading this book, I told Emily that with any justice, our potential future children would learn about Junot Díaz in school, even though he would still be a contemporary, living author. He’s just that good, and that important. His voice is singular and empowering, and I think he is an example of what it truly means to be a brilliant writer.
This is How You Lose Her is a group of short stories, all having something to do with love, relationships, fidelity, and the forces that bring us together and tear us apart. Many of the stories center on a fictionalized, semi-autobiographical character named Yunior. Perhaps by creating that bit of space between himself and Yunior, the floodgates open and the honesty that results is striking. Whether or not it is the freedom offered by the character being ‘semi-autobiographical’ or not, the honesty is certainly one of the most palpable things to jump off of Díaz’s pages. It genuinely inspired me to learn to be more honest in my own fiction writing (when I finally do that again).
Diaz is young, he’s a geeky fanboy, he came over to NYC as a child from the DR, he teaches creative writing at MIT, and he’s already won the Pulitzer for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. It’s not that his voice can speak on behalf of Latinos, or Dominicans, or men, or even fanboys. Instead, I think his honesty lends toward an empowerment for everyone to find their own voice and speak with it honestly, because his is so intensely real and located. He should be required reading.