By Luciana Leitão
“Dude was figureando hard. Had always been a papi chulo, so of course he dove right back into the grip of his old sucias, snuck them down into the basement whether my mother was home or not.” With the action set in the latin reality, Junot Díaz uses an intense language, bringing rhythm and colour into the prose. How You Lose Her is a collection of nine short stories about love, sadness, women and men.
Yunior meets Alma, Miss Lora, Magdalena and the love of his life. Using vibrant and energetic vocabulary, Junot Díaz mixes Spanish with English, without losing authenticity. The sceneries vary — be it on a beach in the Dominican Republic or in a hospital laundry room, the stories are all lived by Yunior. The stories in How You Lose Her are not only sad, even though — as the title so blatantly reveals — the end usually is. The stories are funny, explosive and mostly related with infidelity in romantic relationships.
As Yunior evolves, so does his notion of women evolves — they start by not being entirely human, to being totally human. And we feel such evolution, in every story, in every sentence, in every thought our protagonist reveals.
Also, along with the topic of women, comes the topic of being an immigrant, of belonging to a diaspora, of the uncertainties of where one belongs. Focusing on the working-class Latin life, Junot Díaz language reveals the complexity of the dramas lived by this group of people, and the complexity of codes, oscillating from street lingo in English and in Spanish. Without resorting to many descriptions, but, instead, focusing on dialogues and actions, the author also switches from one language to the other, using it to gain rhythm and power.
Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. In 2008, he won the Pulitzer Prize for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. This is How You Lose her is the author’s second collection of short stories. And it is the third of his book to feature Yunior.