Diaz, Junot. Drown
Diaz, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007), presents in his first collection a thematically-linked series of short stories dealing with the life of a character named Yunior. Yunior serves as an authorial stand-in in many ways, as the stories themselves are explicitly based upon Diaz’s own experiences growing up in poverty in the Dominican Republic and later, in New Jersey. Loud-mouthed, wild, but sensitive in his own way, Yunior is a compelling character surrounded on all sides by hardship and struggle. The stories have a raw and compelling tone and the language alternates between an unaffected simplicity and a soaring lyricism that complements the subject matter well.