By Juan Carlos Pérez-Duthie
Five years after winning a Pulitzer Prize, Dominican American author Junot Díaz launches a collection of love stories, Así Es Como La Pierdes (This Is How You Lose Her) published by Vintage Español.
Díaz is back in familiar territory, revisiting the lives of characters that have become staples of his writing, like the philandering Yunior. From New York City, where he lives, Díaz discusses his latest book.
Was this bookgoing to be a novel that you turned into short stories?
I don’t get that lucky where I discover, or I’m not that flexible, where halfway through I can suddenly change. This book began in the same way it ended, as a collection of connected stories.
You are known to spend a long time working on your writing. Was it any easier now with this book?
Uff, I mean, this one was a tough book. It took about 16 years to finish. Yeah, I’m very slow. But even I outdid myself in this one.
I was writing Oscar Wao at the same time, but this book required a certain kind of honesty. Sometimes you gotta grow up to write a book. There’s a part of me, I can’t describe it or give it a name, but really a part of me needed to grow up, and it took a long while for that to happen.
Compared to when you started, how are you different now as a writer?
As a writer, I am just still so slow. As a person, what little I can tell complete strangers, I’m not… I guess I have a lot more doubt, about myself, about the world in general.
I think I used to be more certain about things. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve begun to realize the world is not as clear as it seems. And I’m not exactly who I always thought I was. People are always saying “carbon footprint.” We also leave, I think, a “human footprint” of all the things that we devour.
The characters in this book suffer consequences. As you grow, do your characters grow with you?
You hope to God that your instrument for viewing the world will somehow influence your art. Certainly there are consequences to infidelity, but I guess my larger realization and my larger argument, in this work, is that in fact, infidelity is the consequence of something else.
Do you see yourself continuing with these characters, particularly Yunior?
I would like to continue with a couple of more books about Yunior’s life. I always wanted to write a large novel pieced together from life, and that’s my dream.
About the author
Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic in 1968, and emigrated to Parlin, New Jersey in 1974. He is the author of Drown (Negocios), and received the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (La Breve y Maravillosa Vida de Oscar Wao). His latest book, This Is How You Lose Her (Así Es Como La Pierdes) was a 2012 National Book Award finalist.