The book for November is This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Dìaz. We have posted information about the author and a reading guide. It might be helpful to take a look at the reading guide AFTER you read the book but before you attend the meeting. The guides always seem to provide good insight, and help to facilitate better discussion. The Meetup will be held at Annie Bailey's Irish Pub & Restaurant in Downtown Lancaster, PA. Hope to see you in November!
About the Author
Junot Díaz was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and is the author of Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao which won the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, African Voices, Best American Short Stories (1996, 1997, 1999, 2000), in Pushcart Prize XXII and in The O'Henry Prize Stories 2009.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Díaz’s first book, Drown, established him as a major new writer with “the dispassionate eye of a journalist and the tongue of a poet” (Newsweek). His first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, was named #1 Fiction Book of the Year” by Time magazine and spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, establishing itself – with more than a million copies in print – as a modern classic. Now Díaz turns his remarkable talent to the haunting, impossible power of love – obsessive love, illicit love, fading love, maternal love. On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness--and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own. In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, the stories in the New York Times-Bestselling This Is How You Lose Her lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.” 224pages
1. What do you think of Yunior—how would you describe him? Do you find him sympathetic, exasperating, offensive, likable? Is it possible to create a likable character who is a compulsive womanizer?
2. Yunior says of himself, "I’m not a bad guy.... I’m like everybody else: weak, full of mistakes, but basically good." Do you agree with his self-assessment...or is he letting himself off the hook too easily? Isn't his description applicable to anyone?
3. Talk about the family's reaction to their new home in the U.S. What would it be like to find yourself in a totally new culture faced with an different language?
4. (Follow-up to Question 3) In "Invierno" Yunior and his brother, newly arrived in New Jersey, stare out the window. Talk about the literary symbolism of that act—what "staring out a window" might represent metaphorically for anyone new to this country.
5. What role in this book does the American Dream play in Yunior's and his family's new life in America?
6. What about Rafa—what do you think of him? Talk about the relationship between the two brothers and, especially, how Yunior relates to Rafa.
7. What does Yunior think—what do you think—of the way Rafa treats women? Does Yunor admire and envy his brother's treatment of women? Does he want to copy Rafa's behavior...or is he shocked by it?
8. (Follow-up to Question 7) A pattern of infidelity runs throughout the stories. Why is Yunior compulsively unfaithful to women? Consider the influences of his father and brother—are genetics destiny? Explore the idea of a deeper, metaphorical meaning of betrayal in these stories—a betrayal against the self? And why does Yunior leave a written record of his infidelities?
9. (Follow-up to Questions 7 & 8) What makes Yunior so compulsively self-destructive?
10. How does the author deal with Rafa's cancer? If you've read other works about cancer patients, does Diaz differ in the way he handles the illness in this book?
11. In "The Pura Principle," Mami, having not been particularly religious before, turns to Christianity to find solace during Rafa's illness. What is Yunior's attitude toward his mother's new-found devotion...and his attitude toward religion in general?
12. Talk about the final story of this book, "The Cheater's Guide to Love." What is Yunior coming to realize? In what way has he changed or matured?
13. Diaz uses two different points of view in his stories—the first-person "I" and second-person "you." At times he breaks out of the former to speak to readers directly. Any thought as to why—what is the effect of doing so? What about his use of the second-person perspective—is it clever, awkward, or off-putting?
14. Some have described Diaz's language as "Spanglish." But he also uses a healty dose of idioms from other parts of culture, from hip-hop to academia. What other cultural lingo does Diaz draw from, and what is the effect of his "multilingualism"? Does it make for greater realism...or humor...or what? Does it cause difficulties for you, the reader?