This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz. Reviewed by Louise Hilton.
Junot Díaz burst onto the literary scene back in 2007 with his debut novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao about a geeky teen from the Dominican Republic named Oscar. The story of this unlikely hero won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award, among others, and captured the hearts of critics and readers alike. I couldn’t wait to read Díaz’s hotly anticipated This Is How You Lose Her that hit shelves this fall and I’m glad to say I was not disappointed.
This Is How You Lose Her is a series of short stories centered around Yunior, who was first introduced in Díaz’s collection of short stories Drown and whom loyal fans of Oscar Wao might remember as Oscar’s roommate, a foul-mouthed youth who just can’t seem to get it together when it comes to relationships. Yunior is now middle-aged and has yet to tame his lothario ways. His Achilles heel – women – continues to haunt him. Indeed, when his most serious relationship to date comes to an end, again, because of his chronic infidelity, Yunior never fully recovers, coming to the rueful realization that “the half-life of love is forever.”
The stories, particularly those narrated by Yunior, are interspersed with Spanish and street argot, and hip-hop and pop culture references abound, but one of the admirable aspects of Díaz’s work is that he makes no apologies for his staccato, choppy prose nor does he ever dumb his words down for the reader. There is little question that the irrepressible Yunior is Díaz’s alter ego – their backgrounds are uncannily similar and the author himself has hinted as much – so perhaps this explains how deftly Yunior’s character is developed. He practically leaps off the page at you and you can’t help but be drawn in to his world. It’s a hectic but exhilarating ride.