With dazzling energy and insight Diaz immerses us in the tumultuous lives of Oscar; his runaway sister Lola; their beautiful mother Belicia; and in the family's uproarious journey from the Dominican Republic to the US and back.
Rendered with uncommon warmth and humour, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a literary triumph that confirms Junot Diaz as one of the most exciting writers of our time.
©2007 Junot Diaz; (P)2008 Recorded Books LLC
The narrators were of a high standard, but there is a fair amount of spanish used throughout the book. I'm told the print version translates the spanish in footnotes and I certainly would have got more from the audiobook had those footnotes been incorporated. Nonetheless it was a good, though depressing, listen.
I have no idea how this story was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. To me it feels more aimed at young adults - certainly this reading makes it feel this way & the main narrator of the story feels better suited to a younger audience.
I couldn't buy in to the story at all. Some of the characters, yes, especially the female ones. But Oscar - the main character - felt completely inaccessible to me. I didn't see any development in him throughout the storyline & his "achievements" seemed to be more down to luck than personal growth. As a character he was very limited.
Little about Oscar's own life seemed "Wonderous" to me. His family history certainly had some interest in it, but his own life held little.
Oscar's friend "Junior" the narrator seemed a strange choice to tell the story of Oscar's family as it seemed unlikely he'd have had access to as much information as the story contained.
I persisted to the end with this one but it felt like wasted effort.
"The Bard of Silk City"
Junot Diaz is well known and this novel was much anticipated through his short-story work on The New Yorker and on that basis, I dived into this full length novel with relish. It represents a fresh voice which stands apart, above and beyond lots of new millennium city-lit in the States and is an invigorating read, though not necessarily from start to finish.
There are definite high-points through the narrative - in particular long sections of The Three Heartbreaks of Belicia Cabral and Poor Abelard are really engaging and fascinating for someone who knew nothing of the brutal regime of Rafael Trujillo its history and impact on the Dominican Republic - and these sections alone are worth the money. Elsewhere, the ?modern? GhettoNerd at the End of the World , whilst well ornamented, does not seem to sparkle to the same extent that is suggested by the wonderful ?Alma? on which the earlier expressed anticipation was based. Junot Diaz has certainly found the voice of Silk City, but the short-comings of Oscar as a central character on which to hang the narrative translates to a little disappointment on my part - whilst I?m really not interested in Star Trek and Marvel the litter of detailed Dominica detritus sustains the work through the less than dazzling sections. Maybe more (or is that less) simpatico on the part of hombre Wao might have livened this one up to consistent heights - but that?s just small potato criticism of a highly original and entertaining new voice on the New York scene.
"Funny and tragic in turns"
I enjoyed this book, the interweaving of the history of the Dominican Republic alongside the history of Oscar's family was fascinating. The only issue for me was that I am not a Spanish speaker, and as the author frequently reverted to his native tongue. This felt very right within the context of the story, but because he provided no explanation of what he was saying,it felt as though I was missing quite a bit.
"wonderful and very painful"
Like the review says there's warmth and humour aplenty in this book, but more overwhelmingly there is a lot of pain and tragedy. At points it is a very tough listen. You will learn a lot about the Dominican Republic and it's dark past under a vicious dictator, and probably goes a long way to explain why people leave beautiful countries for a far from easy life in '1st World' countries. Narration is brilliant, although the liberal use of spanish phrases could've done with a translation as I felt I was missing something poignant at times - who knows though, i don't speak Spanish!
Story is told through the eyes of a number of characters, and Diaz seems to have so much to say it never gets boring. A vibrant, colourful, truthful and painful story well worth the download.
"Well, I don't speak spanish..."
While this might be a good book, I'm not going to stick it out to find out. 30 minutes in to this 10 hour book and I'm tired of the huge amount of Spanish. Key sentences and descriptions of people are littered with Spanish words.
If you don't speak Spanish you will likely be rather frustrated - just to warn you!
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