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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao | [Junot Diaz]

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 2008

National Book Critics Circle Award, Fiction, 2008

Things 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

What the Critics Say

"[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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (2645 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Overall
4.0 (1320 )
5 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.3 (1311 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
 (150)
2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    txkimmers Austin, TX 05-22-09
    txkimmers Austin, TX 05-22-09 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    131
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    82
    19
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    6
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    Overall
    "So good"

    so so so so so so so so so so so so so good.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lcowan 07-16-12
    Lcowan 07-16-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    602
    14
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    "Degrading"

    This was so off track for me I wish I could get my money back. This is the kind of ethnic trash that immigrants like my family find so very offensive. Can't relate- like my aunt has said - its such a shame someone is making money off such vulgarity. Proves we are not all alike. Very good book for people that believe ugliness in itself is profound. I would not be surprised, on top of it all, to find out someone got a grant to write this. What irony!

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roxanne 08-31-08
    Roxanne 08-31-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    87
    2
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "disappointed"

    I was disappointed that I was not able to understand much of the book because it was not in english (with no translation). I was disappointed because the author is a very desriptive writer.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. J. Benyei 02-14-08 Listener Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "Not quite brief enough"

    I usually love when an author will bring in non-fiction historical elements into a novel. In this case, he overdid it and I would often loose interest while he was in the middle of a too-long on verbiage- too short on detail history lesson.

    Even with 3 years of Spanish under my belt and growing up in a neighborhood that was predominately Hispanic (so I learned a lot of slang they don't teach in school) I felt the author used too much Spanish without really giving us a hint as to what it might mean except for the negative or positive connotation. I found it irritating that many of the times I had no idea what he was talking about.

    As for the plot and the characters, I am all for a tragic story. In this case the characters actions were more dumb than tragic. I didn't feel that the author worked toward a climax. As the story unfolded it became repetitive. Different girl, different location, same story. Save for a couple interesting periods, I personally found it to be mostly dull and predictable with a couple unecessary and undevloped supernatural occurances that I am sure were meant to lend flavor to the story but came up short.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kylie 06-23-15
    kylie 06-23-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
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    18
    6
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    0
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    "boring"

    boring and too much politico. probably really good if you are a part of the culture.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    School Nurse Cindy WV 06-11-15 Member Since 2015

    I've been listening to audio books for years and have been an audible subscriber for ? 10 years maybe? A long time anyway.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    22
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    3
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    "Couldn't get into it at all"

    So highly rated but not for me. The story rambled from the beginning and didn't hold my attention. Not to mention, I couldn't keep any of the names straight.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Reggie 05-19-15
    Reggie 05-19-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Please stop"
    What disappointed you about The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao?

    I had to stop listening to this. The performer must have never been around Dominicans or anyone from the ghetto, ever. N*gger is pronounced N*gga in those places, and his dictation sounds like he's reading a list the contents of an Ortega package while sounding very Huck Finn. No thanks, back to the book on this one.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    N/A


    Would you be willing to try another one of Jonathan Davis and Staci Snell ’s performances?

    No


    What character would you cut from The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao?

    N/A


    Any additional comments?

    N/A

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. Johnson New York, NY United States 02-13-15
    L. Johnson New York, NY United States 02-13-15 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    3
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    Performance
    Story
    "Great, important work"
    What made the experience of listening to The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao the most enjoyable?

    This definitive work of Diaz is a great read and an important story.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The characters and plot are well developed, revealing significant aspects of the Dominican past and present, as well as a deeply personal story from the perspectives of the narrators.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and why?

    The male narration has various pronunciation errors in Dominican Spanish and Dominican-American slang. The Dominican accents overall were definitely flawed.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Connie California 07-18-13
    Connie California 07-18-13

    Connie

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Poor"

    This won awards? Everyone in my book club expressed surprise at this books' literary success; only 2 of 10 of us had finished it- I had only because I had it read to me. If you don't speak any Spanish there are apparently websites for translation (why wasn't it footnoted?) I never cared about any of the characters. Really poor.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 03-23-13
    David 03-23-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    4
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    "Not Enjoyable"
    Any additional comments?

    I admit I only managed to get an hour into this book, but all the eye rolling was making my forehead tired. I can't quite put my finger on what the trouble was, but it felt forced. All of the vulgarity, the slang, even the Spanish phrases inserted for atmosphere gave me the impression of an author trying really hard to be cool, and just coming across as a bore.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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