Born in the Dominican Republic, where he lived until he was a young boy, novelist Junot Diaz never forgot the poverty of his early years. His experiences of a fatherless childhood, then adjusting to life in the United States, infuse his fiction.
In 2012, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author published a collection of short stories,“This Is How You Lose Her,” a finalist for the National Book Award. The following passages give the novelist’s impression of the luxury seaside resort Casa de Campo, which has gained international renown as the place where Sen. Robert Menedez (D-N.J.) visited a friend and campaign contributor, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen.
The passages are excerpted from the collection’s opening story, “The Sun, the Moon, the Stars.”
I don’t even want to tell you where we’re at. We’re in Casa de Campo. The Resort That Shame Forgot. . . . It’s the largest, wealthiest resort on the Island, which means it’s a g------ fortress, walled away from everybody else. Guachimanes and peacocks and ambitious topiaries everywhere. Advertises itself in the States as its own country, and it might as well be. Has its own airport, thirty-six holes of golf, beaches so white they ache to be trampled, and the only Island Dominicans you’re guaranteed to see are either caked up or changing your sheets. Let’s just say my abuelo has never been here, and neither has yours. This is where the Garcías and the Colóns come to relax after a long month of oppressing the masses, where the tutumpotes can trade tips with their colleagues from abroad. Chill here too long and you’ll be sure to have your ghetto pass revoked, no questions asked. . . .
Casa de Campo has got beaches the way the rest of the island has got problems. These, though, have no merengue, no little kids, nobody trying to sell you chicharrones, and there’s a massive melanin deficit in evidence. Every fifty feet there’s at least one Eurof--- beached out on a towel like some scary pale monster that the sea’s vomited up. They look like philosophy professors, like budget Foucaults, and too many of them are in the company of a . . . Dominican girl. I mean it, these girls can’t be no more than sixteen, look puro ingenio to me. You can tell by their inability to communicate that these two didn’t meet back in their Left Bank days.
Reprinted with the permission of PenguinPutnam.