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 heard a lot about how great this book was, and I was just not impressed at all. I only listened to part 1 of 2 because it became a chore to tune back in. The story didn't suck me in at all and I could not keep forcing myself to listen. I found it depressing and dark but not in an interesting way. I did think the narrators did a great job, no problem there. Just not the story for me.
I always prefer print but audio is convenient.
Just a wonderful story, edgy, brutal, sexy. Very culturally sensitive as well.
This book used so many words in Spanish without translating them!!! Luckily, I know some Spanish but it was too much even for me. I cannot believe that editors thought that not translating so many words would be all right! I am just so upset about this. I am listening to another book now, and they footnote even the most obvious things like the Temple of Delphi for example, it is mentioned in the book and they give its brief history. So, how come it was so hard to translate the every 10th word from Spanish into English in Oscar Wao?!
Let's deal with the Spanish first... I know absolutely no Spanish and I felt very handicapped when listening to the book. There are lots of Spanish in the book and I think I missed a lot of the colour and nuances in the story as a result. And being a audible book, you don't even get the benefit of subtitles ;-(
Second problem I have with the book is the way it is organized (or not). I found the way the author jumping around confusing. And it is only when I got well beyond the half way point that I start to follow the story. Now I would blame the book's description as well... The book is supposed to be about Oscar, but it is also about his family and his home country. So I may be less confused if I wasn't trying to figure out what the different plot lines has to do with Oscar.
Having said all of that, I actually do like the writing. It is punchy and it captures social zeitgeist well (at least the parts that is in English which I can understand). The writing is can be funny in its own way from time to time.
So in the end, this is a fairly good book. The story line is interesting. The writing is good. But I just feel that I did not getting the full effect (kind of like watching a 3D movie without the 3D glasses).
Nurse working at being a nurse practitioner. The only way I have time to read for pleasure is audio books while I drive to work. I have always liked audio books.
It was very wordy. Lots to do about nothin'
It seemed made up. Not plausible and kind of boring
The prostitute in the Dominican republic
Yes, I think Spanish speaking people might like it better. It did give me an incite in corrupt governments and a belief of being cursed.
I finished Part 1, but it was mostly out of stubborness. I'm not inspired to go on, although the book did improve slightly after the first couple of hours. I didn't find any characters that I could identify with, maybe it's me - it's been a long time since I was a lonely teen. I just don't want to feel sorry anymore for poor, pitiful Oscar. There was some interest once the narration moved from the protagonist to his family history, but it just wasn't strong enough to convince me to spend any more time listening. Maybe some day I'll try to finish this audio book - discover why his life is titled "wonderous" ...it's that hint of a surprise that drew me in in the first place - but for now, I'm movin' on.
Wow, Wao. I listened to this book and it was heart-wrenching and honest, built upon powerful stories woven together with violence, fantasy, and profanity, written in a distinctive voice. I was hoping for something great to happen...and it almost did, a bunch of times. I didn't like very many of the characters, but the ones I did, I really loved and find myself thinking of even after I finished listening. Let's be honest, I am thinking of the ones I despised still, as well. I read in my writing prompts book that Junot Diaz steals away from the world by writing perched alone on the side of the bathtub, and I find that to be a fascinating tid-bit, especially when I envision him writing some of the scenes and relationships that occur in these pages. I'm inspired...to write real, even when it's ugly, and where ever I can find the space. Maybe one day I will win awards too. Even if I don't, life won't be as difficult as it was for the primary GhettoNerd, or for any of the Dominicans in this book, so I've got THAT going for me.
OK, OK, I didn't give it much of a chance however, I am so incredibly offended by the continuous use of the "n" word I could not listen to this book. I am not African American and I am not usually offended by language but the story did not grab me and the offensive language made it a relief to hit the delete button.
This is the FIRST book of hundreds that I have treated this way and rated one star. Glad I only paid 7.95 for it!.
I became fatigued with the dreadful parade of bad things that happen to Oscar. Toward the end, I just quit. Otherwise, it is well written and well read.
This was a GREAT idea. I think the execution was poor. The character of Oscar Wao was so great. He was an amazing character. Pretty well-developed, but mostly funny, intriguing, unique. I wanted more of him. I think the choice of narrator as the old roommate was a terrible idea. It seemed like he was only added to the storyline in order to support the fact that he was the narrator. The only real link between all 3 generations seemed to be the circumstance of getting beat up. I didn't see how that was foucou. Was it about the curse? Or about Oscar? Or Oscar's Mom? I understand that it was about them all, but none of them took hold. It was 10% of 10 different things and not a 100% of anything. It was dissappointing. I finished it, however, but only because I had grown to care enough about Oscar to want to know what happened to him. Oscar's immediate family (mom and sister) were pretty well developed. I could have done without all the time travel though. Write a sequel and just make it about Oscar. He was one of the greatest characters I've ever met. Get rid of the foucou and all the old relatives and focus on Oscar. Give me more Oscar. Then we've got a great book.
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