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From the beloved and award-winning author Junot Díaz, a spellbinding saga of a family’s journey through the New World.
 
A coming-of-age story of unparalleled power, Drown introduced the world to Junot Díaz''s exhilarating talents. It also introduced an unforgettable narrator— Yunior, the haunted, brilliant young man who tracks his family’s precarious journey from the barrios of Santo Domingo to the tenements of industrial New Jersey, and their epic passage from hope to loss to something like love. Here is the soulful, unsparing book that made Díaz a literary sensation.
 

From School Library Journal

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author first burst onto the literary scene with this short story collection about a Dominican teen growing up in New Jersey. The entries explore the stark reality of having to juggle the values of two cultures while never completely fitting in with either. This poignant work has become required reading in many high school courses for good reason. Diaz explores the inherent racism in the United States and his native Quisqueya.

Review

Praise for DROWN:

“Remarkable.”
—Entertainment Weekly

“Powerful and revelatory.”
—Houston Chronicle

“There have been several noteworthy literary debuts this year, but Díaz deserves to be singled out for the distinctiveness and caliber of his voice, and for his ability to sum up a range of cultural and cross-cultural experiences in a few sharp images…. The motifs—the father absent and indifferent to the family, his infidelities and bullying while they’re united, the shabby disrepair of northern New Jersey—resonate from story to story and give Drown its cohesion and weight…. These 10 finely achieved short stories reveal a writer who will still have something to say after he has used up his own youthful experiences and heartaches.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Talent this big will always make noise…. [The ten stories in Drown] vividly evoke Díaz’s hardscrabble youth in the Dominican Republic and New Jersey, where ‘our community was separated from all the other communities by a six-lane highway and the dump.’ Díaz has the dispassionate eye of a journalist and the tongue of a poet…”
—Newsweek

“This stunning collection of stories is an unsentimental glimpse at life among immigrants from the Dominican Republic—and another front-line report on the ambivalent promise of the American Dream. Díaz is writing about more than physical dislocation. There is a price for leaving culture and homeland behind…In this cubistic telling, life is marked by relentless machismo, flashes of violence and severe tests of faith from loved ones. The characters are weighted down by the harshness of their circumstances, yet Díaz gives his young narrators a wry sense of humor.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

“Graceful and raw and painful and smart…His prose is sensible poetry that moves like an interesting conversation…The pages turn and all of a sudden you’re done and you want more.”
—The Boston Globe

“A stunning and kinetic first collection of short stories…. Díaz has the ear of a poet (a rarity among fiction writers), and many of his stories are piloted by a compelling and often fiercely observed first-person narration. Díaz’s precise language drives the accumulation of particular concrete sensory details to the universals of broader, nuanced experience. Comparisons to writers like Sandra Cisneros or Jess Mowry or even Edwidge Danticat (all of whom are at the top of my list) are probably inevitable, but Díaz distinguishes himself thoroughly in this book…. In an era of the glib, hip ‘I’ve-seen-it-all-nothing-shocks-me-anymore’ narrator, Díaz doesn’t back away from sentiment. Though he is never mawkish, his stories are richly textured in feeling…Díaz is a life-smart, savvy writer who, because he’s honest and often funny, very gently breaks your heart.”
—Hungry Mind Review

“New Jersey and the Dominican Republic are thousands of miles apart, but in Junot Díaz’s seductive collection of short stories, they seem to blend into each other as effortlessly as Díaz weaves the words that bring to life the recurring characters that populate both places…. In a sense, this book is about that old and much misunderstood Latino demon, machismo, which only recently is being seen as something not innate to Latino males, but rather as the result of their often futile attempts to reconcile their dual roles as men (in the eyes of their families) and as mere boys (in the eyes of the outside world)…. There’s a lot of artistry in this book, and where there is art, there is always hope.”
—Austin American-Statesman

“Remarkable…His style is succinct and unadorned, yet the effect is lush and vivid, and after a few lines you are there with him, living in his documentary, his narration running through your head almost like your own thoughts…. Vignettes…observed with depth and tenderness but most of all with a simple honesty that rings as clear and true as a wind chime.”
—The Dallas Morning News

“Mesmerizingly honest, heart-breaking and full of promise…Tales of life among the excluded classes of the diaspora, they tread fearlessly where lesser writers gush and politicize—which is exactly their political and aesthetic power.”
—Si Magazine

“Junot Díaz’s stories are as vibrant, tough, unexotic, and beautiful as their settings—Santo Domingo, Dominican Nueva York, the immigrant neighborhoods of industrial New Jersey with their gorgeously polluted skyscapes. Places and voices new to our literature yet classically American: coming-of-age stories full of wild humor, intelligence, rage, and piercing tenderness. And this is just the beginning. Díaz is going to be a giant of American prose.”
—Francisco Goldman

About the Author

Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. He is the author of the critically acclaimed  DrownThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award;   This Is How You Lose Her, a  New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist; and a debut picture book,  Islandborn. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award. A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is currently the fiction editor at  Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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4.6 out of 54.6 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

Avalon
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
You become the characters
Reviewed in the United States on April 23, 2017
This was the last book that I read from Junot and I continue to value his approach of being blunt and honest in his creation of his characters. The story is easy to follow, especially if you are from any Latin background because the writing in this is one of familiarity. If... See more
This was the last book that I read from Junot and I continue to value his approach of being blunt and honest in his creation of his characters. The story is easy to follow, especially if you are from any Latin background because the writing in this is one of familiarity. If you are or were low-income and immigrated to the U.S. or had parents who did or knew people who did, you know the struggle of living within a lifestyle where you are forced to find happiness among hidden sorrow around you, and stay out of trouble once you get to an older age, depending on what type of area you lived in. This story speaks to some of those struggles and coming to age with those realities present.
15 people found this helpful
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Case Quarter
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Learn How to Walk the World
Reviewed in the United States on May 7, 2019
junto diaz shows life experienced at its poorest in a barrio of dominican republic mainly through the eyes of yunior, as a young boy coming of age, with no guidance or talent for him to rise above poverty as with the boys around him and the men before them. he and his... See more
junto diaz shows life experienced at its poorest in a barrio of dominican republic mainly through the eyes of yunior, as a young boy coming of age, with no guidance or talent for him to rise above poverty as with the boys around him and the men before them. he and his brother and their friends know no compassion or friendship, not even for the boy with the face eaten by a pig. fathers have abandoned families for life in the united states, their unwavering promise from generation to generation, to return when they make good or to send for the family to join them in the united states, a promise seldom fulfilled. sons become drug dealers before they’re out of school. when opportunities come, the sons turn them down, no, to the u.s. army recruiter, separation from the rare friend who will attend college.

the chapters read more like short stories than parts of a novel. yunior ceases to be the narrator for some stories or retells the stories of other dominican men as they leave the island for the traditional dominican routes, leading to florida, new jersey, and the boroughs of new york. but it’s not a route that ends in assimilation or a rise in class within the dominican communities in the united states. there are no dominican beaches, pride in local history. in new york there is no talk of baseball or the rising presence of dominicans in area politics.

the events told by diaz, true as they may be, are stereotypical, of men rutted in a pattern that takes them from barrio to barrio. but don’t fault the author, diaz knows what he is doing. a college bound friend of yunior tells him to learn how to walk the world. years before, a young man, yunior’s father left his family in the dominican republic, arrived in florida and walked part of the way from miami to manhattan. yunior is his father’s son. to paraphrase war’s song, world is a ghetto, for these men the world is a barrio, which is the way they walk.
2 people found this helpful
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LadyM
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great book, a bit scattered
Reviewed in the United States on April 30, 2020
I love Junot Diaz’s writing style, he’s dramatic, yet hilarious. I love his stories, the passion & detail in his books make me visualize the scenes like a motion picture. Drown touches on topics of poverty, life in the DR (can be substituted by almost any Latin... See more
I love Junot Diaz’s writing style, he’s dramatic, yet hilarious. I love his stories, the passion & detail in his books make me visualize the scenes like a motion picture.

Drown touches on topics of poverty, life in the DR (can be substituted by almost any Latin American country), struggles of immigration, abandonment due to immigration, dysfunctional fathers, generational dysfunction & much more. It’s a good book, but it was a bit scattered for me. Some of the stories left me hanging. What happened to the older brother, Rafa? I finished the book in 2 nights, did I miss something, did I read past Rafa? What happened to Ysrael?

Maybe I should’ve read this one before Oscar Wao. Now that was an amazing book!
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Sylviastel
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Captures the Heart and Soul of the Domincan Experience in America!
Reviewed in the United States on January 7, 2016
I listened to Junot Diaz''s short story collection on four CDs at the gym. Every story is rich with detail and insight about the immigration experience especially an immigrant from Dominican Republic. The thirteen stories here seem quite similar about the immigration... See more
I listened to Junot Diaz''s short story collection on four CDs at the gym. Every story is rich with detail and insight about the immigration experience especially an immigrant from Dominican Republic. The thirteen stories here seem quite similar about the immigration experience. I don''t know if they were supposed to intertwine or work independently.

The characters are well developed in style and writing. You can hear the frustration in coming to a new country and speaking another language. Junot Diaz has perfectly captured the soul and heart of the Dominican experience in America particularly in New Jersey and New York City. I am familiar with the author''s landscape in geography.

I can see this short story collection served as a springboard in writing his masterpiece, "The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao." This collection is a must read for his fans
6 people found this helpful
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Kimberly Fettig
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
You decide...
Reviewed in the United States on September 15, 2017
I appreciate Mr. Diaz''s style of writing and even more so, deliberating upon which stories were connected. I feel more were connected then not. Some reviews have made this a concern, mentioning sloppy transitions and unknown correlations, but I think this the... See more
I appreciate Mr. Diaz''s style of writing and even more so, deliberating upon which stories were connected. I feel more were connected then not.

Some reviews have made this a concern, mentioning sloppy transitions and unknown correlations, but I think this the beauty of the novel....you decide which stories are related.

It''s clear several short stories are intertwined, I will leave with you with the pleasure of discovering which ones for yourself. As displayed in his other works, a story is often left without resolution or conclusion, which is part of the beauty of his writing.
6 people found this helpful
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Jamie and Heather Hejduk
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Didn''t love it, didn''t hate it
Reviewed in the United States on November 13, 2019
Drown is a collection of short stories about growing up in the Dominican Republic. They are told in a stream of consciousness sort of way with absolutely no quotation marks. Usually lack of quotation marks bugs me, but because of the conversational way the book is written,... See more
Drown is a collection of short stories about growing up in the Dominican Republic. They are told in a stream of consciousness sort of way with absolutely no quotation marks. Usually lack of quotation marks bugs me, but because of the conversational way the book is written, I think it worked okay not to have them. Sometimes the stories are quite crass and there’s a fair bit of bad language. I didn’t dislike this book, but I didn’t really like it either.
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Minka
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Refreshing, excellent read
Reviewed in the United States on June 6, 2013
I was the only member of my book club to thoroughly enjoy this book (I like to think it''s because I''m the smartest haha) Diaz''s writing style itself is crisp, clean, witty, humorous and hits a nerve. I will definitely be reading more of his works. Contrary to... See more
I was the only member of my book club to thoroughly enjoy this book (I like to think it''s because I''m the smartest haha) Diaz''s writing style itself is crisp, clean, witty, humorous and hits a nerve. I will definitely be reading more of his works.

Contrary to some of the criticisms I encountered, I found the flow of the book to be just challenging enough to be intriguing, rather than frustrating. (And I''m the type of person who gets irritated at movies like Inception and The Matrix). Having been born a middle class white American female, I have little relation demographically to Dominican immigrants; however, every story resonated with me in respect to various phases of my life. I have felt that magnetic, toxic pull to a mate who was terrible for me. I''ve dealt with abandonment issues. These emotions are not even remotely contrived. Despite such a specific setting, Drown explores so many universal themes that every reader - lest he/she is devoid of any emotion - will encounter some aspect of this book with which to connect.
4 people found this helpful
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Kristin L. West
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Sadly humorous tale
Reviewed in the United States on December 29, 2017
This was a sad tale of a boy who grew up in the Dominican Republic without a father, who was torn between two families, one he tried to abandon in his homeland and a second he began while working as an immigrant in America. Both father and son struggled to survive lives... See more
This was a sad tale of a boy who grew up in the Dominican Republic without a father, who was torn between two families, one he tried to abandon in his homeland and a second he began while working as an immigrant in America. Both father and son struggled to survive lives rife with hardship and poverty along with a varied cast of characters. Ironically, the son’s daily and romantic exploits echoed those of his “deadbeat” father. The characters and plot were darkly humorous and entertaining enough to make me want to keep reading to learn what happened to them, but I didn’t care for the ending, which didn’t contain much of a resolution or message.
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Top reviews from other countries

Woolco
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Buzz Words
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 12, 2015
Junot Diaz is hyped up big style in the literary press, let''s face it. One of those ''new voices'' they talk about. This time it''s the Dominican US immigrant voice they like the sound of. I have to admit that I enjoyed a lot of the stories here in ''Drown''. There''s a real...See more
Junot Diaz is hyped up big style in the literary press, let''s face it. One of those ''new voices'' they talk about. This time it''s the Dominican US immigrant voice they like the sound of. I have to admit that I enjoyed a lot of the stories here in ''Drown''. There''s a real vigour and honesty- an authenticity to them. And it is an interesting background and culture that Junot writes about; autobiographically, one suspects. Okay, one or two, like ''Negocios'' and ''Edison, New Jersey'' sagged a bit for me. Lacked the intensity and crackle of the edgier, emotive ones. All in all though a refreshing buzz. (There''s a glossary at the back for the Hispanic terms, by the way. Which I discovered only on completing the book!)
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Herman Norford
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Not Drowing but very much Alive
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 24, 2009
First published in 1996, Junot Diaz''s Drown is a collection of short stories. They are set in Santo Domingo and the typical US, African Caribbean diaspora of New York, New Jersey and Miami. The stories are narrated by and the action is seen from the perspective of Yunior,...See more
First published in 1996, Junot Diaz''s Drown is a collection of short stories. They are set in Santo Domingo and the typical US, African Caribbean diaspora of New York, New Jersey and Miami. The stories are narrated by and the action is seen from the perspective of Yunior, the second son of the family whose life and times are brilliantly outlined in the stories. Drown is the precursor to the debut full length novel, The Brief Life of Oscar Wao which was received with high critical acclaim. The collection opens with Ysrael, in which the narrator and his brother, Rafa, takes a journey to see a boy who was savaged by a pig when he was a toddler. Ysrael is the cast off, the unwanted and his plight is made worse by mockery. When the two young brothers encounter the boy the older brother, Rafa, gives Ysrael a beating for no apparent reason other than to jeer at his ugliness. Immediately, the reader is attuned to one of Diaz''s themes - namely the harshness of growing up in Santo Domingo. Using unadorned language, our narrator takes us into a harsh world of broken families, economic hardship and dubious friendships. But at the same time, Diaz reveals human qualities of courage and tenacity. These are not short stories of mere gloom and doom. There is also a light and jovial aspect to some of the stories. In "How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl or Halfie"; the tongue in cheek advice about how to date a girl is humorous and there are some acute observations. Perhaps my favourite story is Aguantando. In this story we are taken back to Santo Domingo. Yunior relives part of his child hood without a father. It is a story that is at once touching and revealing of life as a poor boy in Santo Domingo. But above all, it is a celebration of the lone mothers, whose partners have long emigrated to the US, struggling to make ends meet and showing love for their children by caring for and nurturing them. In one paragraph or even a sentence, Diaz has a gift for capturing the lives of people in the Caribbean vis a vis a large, powerful and not too distance neighbour - namely the US. Despite the hardships and problems experienced by the characters, Diaz''s narrator''s voice remains dispassionate and objective. Diaz allows him to present his characters and action to the host nation saying this is what happens to the poor immigrant from the so-called third world and to the prospective immigrant he says this is what you should expect when you arrive in the land of plenty. The short stories that make up Drown are not light weight. They deal with some enormous issues: they are about the stuff of boyhood, they are about the meeting of cultures and integrating into a new life, and they are about individuals who does not fit into a so-called norm. These issues make the book a very good read.
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KH
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Beautifully written and memorable
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 15, 2017
Certain scenes/ chapters I found more readable than others. The atmosphere is vivid. It all made more sense after watching a you-tube interview in which Diaz explains his take on life. Beautifully written and memorable.
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Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
You''ll either like it or you won''t
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 4, 2016
Diaz is a technically brilliant author. I know a lot of people who enjoyed this book but it just was not for me.
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natalia
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Well-written, evocative
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 2, 2014
I really enjoyed this book, primarily because of the quality and warmth of the writing. My one criticism - I felt that there were a lot of loose threads. I''m sure they were intentional, but it left me feeling rather dissatisfied.
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