This is how you lose her

11 September 2012 Books

This is how you lose her

Junot Diaz

As its title suggests, this book is about love – both lost and won. Across its nine linked short stories, main character Yunior lies, cheats and steals his way into the hearts and beds of the women he chases. Díaz’s prose is equally seductive, and as in his brilliant debut Drown (1996), its jazz-like English is punctuated by Spanish slang, highlighting the challenges faced by his migrant characters caught between the cultures of America and Latin America. Díaz told The New Yorker he wanted this book to “capture those heartbreaks that never seem to leave us – that stay in us like radiation.” Yunior certainly carries this burden: his incessant pants-chasing is tenderly balanced with losing a brother to cancer and coping with an absent father. There’s also something very touching and honest about Yunior’s view of love: “Our relationship wasn’t the sun, the moon, the stars”, he says, after a woman he wronged leaves him, “but it wasn’t bullshit, either”. For a book centred on a womaniser, it has real heart.

Emily Laidlaw