I always find myself wandering around the book section of any store I visit, and this was the case a couple of weeks ago when I went to Costco. In their book section, my eye immediately caught Junot Díaz’s name in tiny print on a book cover.
Not surprisingly, I bought the book; it was “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity” by Katherine Boo. I had never heard of it or of the author, but I bought the book simply because it had Díaz’s blurb on the cover. That’s when I realized that I have a good amount of books on my shelves that Díaz has, in one way or another, influenced me to purchase.
Of course, I absolutely love “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” and I think I’ve pretty much watched every interview of his that is streaming on YouTube (my personal favorite is here). Therefore, I completely trust Díaz’s opinions on books. I love that he cares so much about characters and writers of color and the validity of their stories.
The first book I purchased under Díaz’s influence was Hilton Als’ “White Girls.” It was one of the last books I read in 2014, and I could not have anticipated the powerful analyses this book contains. If you like reading about race and gender, and have a fascination with some of America’s famous entertainers and writers, then this book is definitely for you.
The next purchase is actually a graphic novel (which has 6 volumes): “Sweet Tooth” by Jeff Lemire. This one didn’t come through a blurb of his, but rather through a video where he goes around a comic book store and gives us a sampling of some of his favorites. He mentioned how great “Sweet Tooth” was, and since I had been meaning to start picking up some graphic novels, I went out and purchased the first volume. I’ve only managed to get my hands on the first three; I’m still on the look out for the last three. I’m planning on doing my next review on the first three volumes, so I won’t go into anymore.
The last two books I want to mention are, as I mentioned, Boo’s “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” and “The Black Minutes” by Martin Solares. Although I have yet to read these two books, I am putting all of my trust in Díaz, and I hope that these books will make for a great read.