Five years after the publication of his Pulitzer Prize-winning debut novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz once more steps into the well-worn shoes of Yunior, his semi-autobiographical fictional counterpart who provided such a winning narrator for both Oscar Wao and the author’s first collection of stories, Drown (1996). Again we enter the familiar territory of Yunior’s life, so close to Díaz’s: his childhood in New Jersey as a poor Dominican immigrant, his relationship with his family (especially his mother), his love of sci-fi, and his complex dealings with women. Given that seven of the nine stories in this latest collection have been published already, in the New Yorker and elsewhere, it’s fair to say that, in more ways than one, this book does not break new ground.
Even if the terrain is familiar, however, it’s still a pleasure to be here. The stories in This Is How You Lose Her are vignettes from Yunior’s life, mostly involving women and related in his street-smart, slang-heavy Spanglish. The book could easily have taken its title from the final story