the story is okay, hard to keep up with all of the Spanish words and ideas that are integrated into the story and the story itself is a bit confusing. it helped to listen to the story since this was for one of my classes and the narrators were great so if you need to read it i recommend listening to it.
I already resent the time I spent finishing this book, so I'll keep this short. I've never rooted for a main character to die before this novel. The sister's perspective was insightful, the historical backdrop was fascinating, but I hated the main character and I wanted him to die. His storyline and his dialogue felt like they came from a porno script, and he basically remains in stasis throughout the novel which made it boring to hear about him. I finished the book out of pure spite.
This very well-written novel is not the kind I enjoy reading. To me, it had no redeeming value.
There's a LOT of explicit language in this book, so you might want headphones. Great but sad stories woven together about a Dominican family. Great book.
Diaz is magic with words. The worlds he creates in New York and Dominican Republic are colorful. The characters are strong and unique, probably representative of people of this time and history. The plot line is unpredictable, revealing of real history , and imagined events which believably could have taken place. This story should be re read to catch all the flavor
"Like" is not exactly the right word (hence my 4-star Goodreads rating), but I don't know exactly what is. It is a 5-star novel (it won the Pulitzer), and I completely see why. I listened to this book, and really appreciated the talent and skill of the reader. The advanced vocabulary, dialectic "Spanglish" and profanity, use of actual Spanish, and references to popular and political culture make it the kind of novel that bears academic study: reading it at a desk/computer with a search engine in one window and a Spanish translation application in another, making marginal notes, etc. Not having the time or ambition for all that, I was glad for the expert audible narration that allowed the plot and character development to flow and shine.
It was still educational for all my laziness: the portrayal of the far-reaching effects of living in a country controlled by a brutal dictatorship (the Dominican Republic under Trujillo) and the "diaspora" of Dominicans to New York City. [From Wikipedia: The movement of a population from its original homeland characterized by social coherence within the diaspora community and ties to the ancestral homeland including a myth or collective memory, the idea that the ancestral homeland is the true home to which they will someday return, and a personal or vicarious relationship to the homeland that shapes their identity.] All of these concepts are woven through the novel, with an emphasis on the idea of fuku, a bad-luck curse that follows a family through generations.
The narrative structure features Yunior, semi-omniscient, both first and third-person storyteller, who plays a significant role in the lives of Oscar and his sister Lola. The novel includes too many interesting and significant characters to describe, and you have to read/listen to it yourself to get the full affect. As far as that goes, the book is full of profanity, unsavory behaviors, brutality (especially violence toward women), and limited amounts of respite from all that, which likely provides a hyperbolic, dramatized, but not completely unrealistic of real life for members of this diaspora. I really liked it; your mileage may vary.
Read this if you have any interest in Latin American history and it's impact on being a marginalized young person in the USA. Awesome innovative method of telling the story of the Trujillo era of the Dominican Republic as it pertains to the generation after Trujillo.