Kalima translates Junot Diaz’s “Drown”, a book that tells the stories of Dominican migrants

January 31, 2010
By

Kalima, the translation project of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH), is publishing an Arabic translation of Junot Diaz’s “Drown”.

The book, a collection of ten short stories covering 191 pages, examines a whole range of the life experiences of Dominican Republic migrants in the United States and depicts several experiences.

It moves from the story of a young champion in the Dominican Republic to that of a young man traveling to the United Nations only to end up in a poor neighborhood in tough circumstances in New Jersey.

According to ADACH, the stories are coloured with the difficult experiences of a child trying to grow and are saturated with images from a limited cultural scene depicting a fine fatherless young man who is burdened by poverty and a worried mother in the gritty neighbourhoods of New Jersey.

Boys act harshly and brazenly in these stories, but in their minds they are suffering from the volatile and difficult conditions they experience within their own families.

Diaz tells these events evenly and neutrally, despite the fact that they greatly affect the characters.

Central to Díaz’s work is the duality of the immigrant experience. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel, “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” in 2008.

“Junot Diaz is one of the writers who have become a stunning literary success overnight. But luck has nothing to do with his success. He achieved it with his talent … Diaz possesses the eye of a journalist, the tongue of a poet. He is wasting his time trying to announce his wishes timidly, and even though his first production was discreet, a talent of this magnitude will always make noise,” said Newsweek.

“Forget the word ‘collection'; this newcomer has produced an angry mass of short and united stories. He surrounds each story with a strict and boiling energy… Here we find the nineties, poverty … Live, forget about reading and imagine it is the live reality,” wrote the Mail on Sunday.

Diaz, born on December 31, 1968 in the Dominican Republic, is a writer and creative writing professor at MIT in Boston.

The book has been translated by Osama Motarlaji, who was born in Latakia (Syria) in 1948. Other translations include “Black Spring” and “Dublin people”.

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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