In 1996 a young Dominican-American writer named Junot Daz published a slender book of short stories called Drown. It was tender and tough and heartbreaking and all a first book of short stories is supposed to be, and he was hailed as the next great hope of American literature. Then Daz more or less disappeared for 11 years, long enough for most readers to assume that, like most next great hopes of American literature, he wasn't coming back.
Now he has, and with a book so astoundingly great that in a fall crowded with heavyweights Richard Russo, Philip Roth Daz is a good bet to run away with the field. You could call The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead; 352 pages), out on Sept. 6, the saga of an immigrant family, but that wouldn't really be fair. It's an immigrant-family saga for people who don't read immigrant-family sagas.
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