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 am a recent fan of Junot Diaz from both his reading/interviews as well as his short stories as presented on the New Yorker's short story podcast. I think that Oscar Wao should have remained maybe a novella or a short story but even a writer with deft word skills can get dull when going back and forth and back and forth over the same territory. Oscar Wao is a loser. His life is brief. Those are my Cliff's Notes. I don't think there's much else to say - except he's from the Dominican Republic. Apparently, Oscar Wao is the first loser the DR ever produced. Interesting, but not novel-, or credit-worthy.
While I speak enough Spanish to flow with all the spanglish, I find the interestingly sad and morose story of a Dominican family's demise obscured by excessive swearing.
This really took a while for me to get through. I just wanted to hear the story. What exactly is proven by being so blatantly ignorant? I grew up with Oscars, Yuniors and Lolas and while cursing was a part of their lives, they weren't dominated by it.
At times this felt like a short story stretched out into a mini epic. I also found it went a lot of places and no where at the same time. I really wanted to like this, but it was a difficult ride.
Mr. Diaz take note: excessive writing and excessive cursing always malign good writing and good storytelling.
A librarian who loves to read, whether in print or in the air
Until now, whenever I have read a Pultizer Prize winning book, I have liked the book, regardless of its genre. However, this time, I can't say that I liked the book a lot, and would have difficulty recommending it without reservations to others. I certainly learned about the Dominican Republic, its culture, and people, but it was a dark, violent and misogynistic story.
The story of Oscar Wao was a tad weak but I really loved the background history of The Trujillo era in the Dominican Republic. It actually encouraged me to read In the Time of Butterflies.
Me thinks the author is drunk with the wine of words. The attempt to wring some meaning out of a "Dominican story" just doesn't do much for me from an artistic or cultural point of view. "C."
I really wanted to like this book. It has great reviews and the writing is clever. The narration is good. I think the reason I gave up on this book after a few hours (I have listened to hundreds of Audible downloads) is that the author had nothing to say. There's not a deep thought to be had. So the entire read--what I heard of it--was like listening to someone make smalltalk about himself. Blah.
I like a variety of reading. Favorites: Prayer for Owen Meany Dragon Tattoos Candide by Voltaire, one of the great books! Hiiason
Disappointed. The violence, the redundancy of the evil notes about Trujillo were, in the end, boring. How many "worst beatings" can there be? In this story many. The Dominican Republic and Dominicans in general should be thoroughly insulted by their characterizations. Frankly, in the end it wasn't such an interesting story.
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