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 love the writing and the story-- Learned enough about The Dominican to want to learn more
I have been waiting to read this award-winning book for ages. I was underwhelmed. I supposed I read it for the wrong reasons, hoping for a story of Oscar and instead getting a story of a Dominican family, a curse, and a country. It reminded me a lot of Love in the Time of Cholera (which I also found underwhelming). It was loaded with hyperbole and some of the characters, despite their ordeals, never were likeable for me (same with Cholera). I LOVED Oscar. This overweight love-obsessed boy (clearly with Asperger's) was my absolute favorite. Much later in the book they finally started to tell Oscar's story. But not for long enough. If this book was more Oscar and less about his Mother, grandparents and Dominican dictators I'd have adored it, devoured it. I was most put off by the lack of any redeeming arcs in the mother's storyline and the lack of any follow through into her life as the mother of the title character. I guess extensive hyperbole and unlikeable characters aren't my cup of tea - despite Nobel Prizes. The narrator was good. Pacing was appropriate. Voices were recognizable. Spanish, in my opinion, was emotive (what I didn't understand with my mediocre command of romance languages was delivered with inflection). Thus, 3 stars total.
Though the writing itself was good, the story shifted in its focus numerous times. After hearing about the life experiences of many characters, I was left at the end wondering what the point of it all was. The title is misleading, since most of the book is not focused on the character of Oscar, nor is it from his perspective. It does begin with him and end with him, but much of the time it is unclear who is telling his story, and what his story has to do with the majority of the book.
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.
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