Junot Díaz, whose essay “The Money” appears in the Summer Fiction Issue of the New Yorker, tells us what he’s reading in June in this essay from the magazine.
Because I teach during the regular months, summer is where I can indulge in what I love most: a free-for-all reading spree. Already got my next four victims lined up. First, a novel I’ve read once before but I can’t resist a double serving of: Min Jin Lee’s “Free Food for Millionaires.” One of the great first novels of the past decade and a book that is simultaneously profound and un-put-down-able. From the moment Casey, our yearning kickass protagonist, finds her white boyfriend in bed with two other gals, this book just grabs on, and it don’t matter whether you’re on a ferry to somewhere awesome or stuck in a lousy job you hate, this book will thrill you to the bone. Lee writes her (and your) ass off. This is one everybody should read.
Up next will be Dany Laferriere’s “I am a Japanese Writer.” You can never go wrong with Laferriere; he’s got enough smarts and devil-may-give-a-fuck for half the block and just the first two chapters of this new novel had me reaching for the wallet. A black Haitian writer from Montreal decides he’s in fact a Japanese writer and suddenly the world shifts on its axis. Identity, celebrity, and the power of art to transform all (or nothing) seem to be in the offing.
Third will be Jason Shiga’s “Empire State: A Love Story (Or Not).” I really enjoyed Shiga’s choose-your-own-adventure style book “Meanwhile,” but this one seems to chuck out all the clever gestures for something much more heartfelt, seems to be about the awkward boy who stayed in Oakland, traveling to N.Y.C. by bus to proclaim his love for the girl who left and who probably does not love him. The opening dialogue about that girl kissing a four-hundred-pound blind date just to help him get “through his thirties” is priceless.
And clean-up is Cristina Rivera-Garza’s “No One Will See Me Cry.” A Mexican photographer working in an insane asylum believes a new patient is a prostitute he knew a long time ago. If that setup alone don’t get you, then we’re not in Borges’s library anymore. Just from the flip-through, it looks to be a smart, lyrical heartbreaker. I’ve heard wonderful stuff about Rivera-Garza and this seems like the best place to start.
These four should get me through June magnificently.
For the original report go to http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2011/06/what-im-reading-this-summer-junot-daz.html#ixzz1QuxZXxwa