Quick Book Review: “Lot” by Bryan Washington

This is a collection of stories (13 of them) that mostly focus on the personal and family life of the son of an immigrant family in Houston.  The father is Latino and the mother is black, and as the son grows into adulthood, he has to deal with life as an immigrant, namely the prejudices and economic realities in his community.  He also has to come to terms with his sexuality.  The stories deal with broken families, menial work, prostitution, AIDS, and figuring out how to be yourself when you don’t really know exactly who you are.  The stories are gritty and real, and written in the real language of the street.  I liked most of the stories.  A few really stuck with me, especially “Waugh”, about a group of young male hustlers and the hardships they faced. The stories alternate, from the personal life of the unnamed narrator, to the experiences of the interesting characters in his circle.  In a world that seems designed to keep immigrants down and struggling, the author’s characters manage to retain their dignity and keep plugging on. These are sad, depressing stories, but they’re honest and inspiring and well-written.  My life couldn’t be more different than those of the characters in these stories, and yet I could relate to them, because the emotions that the author taps into are universal.  An excellent collection, even more remarkable considering that this is the author’s debut publication. 

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