‘No Face’ by Junot Díaz

No Face by Junot Díaz, 1996

The magic trick:

Crushing the reader with one brief interaction between brothers – one that’s highly stylized yet still realistic and completely devastating

“No Face” revisits the character of Ysrael we met in Drown collection’s opening story. If you thought that one was heartbreaking, try this one out. Yikes. Whereas “Ysrael” is told from Yunior’s point of view, and focuses on his guilt, “No Face” is all about Ysrael. It really comes down to one passage. Returning home after dealing with the various mundane tortures that make up his everyday, Ysrael talks to his brother.

Where have you been? Pesao asks.

I’ve been fighting evil.

I want to do that.

You won’t like it, he says.

And that’s quite a trick on Díaz’s part.

The selection:

He watches for opportunities from corners, away from people. He has his power of INVISIBILITY and no one can touch him. Even his tío, the one who guards the dams, strolls past and says nothing. Dogs can smell him though and a couple nuzzle his feet. He pushes them away since they can betray his location to his enemies. So many wish him to fall. So many wish him gone.

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