Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 2008
National Book Critics Circle Award, Fiction, 2008Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fuku: the curse that has haunted Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.
Diaz immerses us in the tumultuous life of Oscar and the history of the family at large, rendering with genuine warmth and dazzling energy, humor, and insight the Dominican-American experience - and, ultimately, the endless human capacity to persevere in the face of heartbreak and loss. A true literary triumph, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao confirms Junot Diaz as one of the best and most exciting voices of our time.
©2007 Junot Diaz; (P)2007 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. and Books on Tape
"[A] wondrous, not-so-brief first novel that is so original it can only be described as Mario Vargas Llosa meets Star Trek meets David Foster Wallace meets Kanye West. [W]ondrous [and] original. … [This work] decisively establishes him as one of contemporary fiction’s most distinctive and irresistible new voices." (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times)
"The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is panoramic and yet achingly personal. … It’s Dominican and American, not about immigration but diaspora, in which one family’s dramas are entwined with a nation’s, not about history as information but as dark-force destroyer." (Susan Straight, Los Angeles Times)
"[A] book whose imaginative energy, linguistic volatility, historical passion and all-around love of life (and its characters) make it one of the best first novels of the past few decades. … A profane and sacred, playful and serious, light and dark, filthy-throated and bittersweet treatise on life as we need to know it." (Alan Cheuse, Dallas Morning News)
I remember a different English class at my school had students reading this book during 8th grade. I loved This Is How You Lose Her and Drown so I assumed this would be revelatory if it was good enough to be required reading, but I don't quite get the hype. It's good, but not astounding?
Also the narrator randomly switches to a southern drawl-y voice midway through the book as though he forgot which character or book this is and it's pretty irritating haha. But otherwise everything's great! Just not 5 stars great.
Tells about the legacy of the Trujillo dictatorship, the DR immigrant experience and loads of Spanish slang. The story I found to be lacking and ended weakly. Maybe comic book nerds like this story better. I can't see it being worthy of the Pulitzer.
first off, and this is no spoiler, this is a sad book. all of the characters lives steeped in tragedies and those shape their lives. the second, the performance is amazing, and third the writing is so heart wrenching ly good! my one and only complaint is that there is a fair amount Spanish in the story, and while beautifully performed, my rusty Spanish could not always keep up. had I been reading the book, I could have looked up the phrases.
Not sure this would be a book that I would read on my own. I read it as an assignment. It was not a bad book by any means just a lot of dark sometimes violent humor that is taken as everyday things. Author lessens the violent truth with linguistically vulgar (both cursing and sexual) humor. Not dreadful. Not outstanding.
I kept waiting for the story to grip me and to get excited about this book, but it never happened. It is possible that I didn't fully understand the book since you must understand a bit of Spanish to get through it. I believe some of the nuances of the story were lost on me during the Spanish portions which were not translated in the audiobook. Had I had a hard copy of this book I may have looked up the meanings of the words.
part time gourmet, full time nerd
The writer seems capable of painting a vivid picture and setting up the storytelling framework but I found the content vulgar and boring.
this is a tale is told in a way that makes the sad story an adventure of a lifetime. my favourite element was the storytelling, the use of expressions and dialect made the story feel familiar and real. I loved how it all plays out, our doomed protagonist truly is wondrous like the great tragedies of the Greeks.
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