4/5 ‘Your girl catches you cheating.’ This is how the pivotal tale in Junot Díaz’s newest collection of stories confronts its reader. Deeds have been done, and the earth-scorching that follows is a by-product of decisions already made and pleasures enjoyed. But what makes a cheater? What’s in such a man’s physical and emotional make-up? Is there a slim possibility for rehabilitation, if not redemption?
Consider the sum of This Is How You Lose Her, a thorough, if fictional, search for the answers. Its stories – often guided by narrator Yunior – plumb formative moments in a young Dominican immigrant’s life, turning the microscope on his upbringing and natural predilections in a hunt for clues. The lighthearted and playful musicality in his Spanglish – a comic-book-reading Dominican girlfriend becomes an ‘alternatina’ – remains even when the characters are coping with pain. Matthew Love