Deluxe DíazBy: José Manuel Simián
If you read Manero, there’s a high chance that you’ve also read fiction by Junot Díaz.
You may have become a fan back in 1996, when Drown became a cult book, and Díaz the provocative voice of a new generation of Latino immigrants. You may have discovered him when The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao came out in 2007 and won the Pulitzer in 2008. Hey, you may have even tried to get an autograph, casually thrown the phrase "ghetto nerd" into a conversation to impress people, engaged in bar discussions about how closely his character Yunior is based on Díaz himself, considered writing fiction yourself to win your own MacArthur genius grant...
You get the idea: Junot Díaz’s impact on modern Latino culture is unrivaled. We hate the current overuse of the term “rock star,” but if Latino USA has a single “book star,”—where man and literary work are hard to tell apart and become a symbol of something else—it’s him.
Díaz’s latest book, This Is How You Lose Her, published last year, widened the narrative net he has been weaving with his two previous works: an impressive saga of Dominican immigration into the USA tied together by the figure of Yunior. It became a best seller and received critical praise, making Díaz’s star even brighter. And right on the heels of its release in paperback, it gets the deluxe treatment: a hardcover version with full-page illustrations by none other than one of Díaz’s heroes, the cocreator of the Love and Rockets comic saga, Jaime Hernández. And besides being a perfect way to bring home the influence of the comic book world in Díaz’s narratives—his passion for them was on full display in Oscar Wao—Hernández’s black-and-white illustrations add something beautiful to the stories: a notion of sensuality and doom that not even Díaz’s words could make this poignant.