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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

To read about movies and TV shows I'm watching, visit my other blog: Elliot's Watching

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Junot Diaz and the struggle for assimilationist and recognition

The junot Diaz story fiesta, 1980 is included in the 100 years of the best american short stories collection not because it's a strikingly powerful story in itself but because it's an excellent representation of all of Diaz's early work.  Starting w his collection drown Diaz has been a sharp,funny, insightful and sometimes self-effacing voice of the generation of Dominican immigrants who arrived in the us in th 70s and 80s and have both assimilated into the mainstream culture and transformed the culture - sociologically, politically, artistically. In this story Diaz uses his later-ego character, yunior, to show a Dominican family in struggle and in evolution: the NJ family is going to the Bronx for a party to celebrate the arrival of yunior's aunt.  Over the course of the story there's a lot of eating, music, dancing, warm embraces, and family squabbles - in some ways v Dominican and in others typical of any american family gathering. But there is a dark undercurrent as well: yunior tends to get nauseated and ill when riding in his father's new be van, a potential crisis ready to erupt so to speak on any family outing. Over the course of the story we learn in pieces about the tension that may lie behind his nausea: dad has a girlfriend, and even takes yunior (in the van) to her house and asks yunior to watch tv while he spends an hour w/ the girlfriend. The tension of keeping this secret from mama lies behind everything in the story - and has us see the superficial cool of y and his brother in a new, different light. This story is a powerful family portrait, or sketch maybe, and becomes more profound in the context of other stories about this character and his struggle for assimilation and recognition

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