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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 (2547 )
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4.0 (1237 )
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Story
4.3 (1230 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
 (144)
2 star
 (35)
1 star
 (32)
Performance
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  •  
    Connie California 07-18-13
    Connie California 07-18-13

    Connie

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    99
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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
    12
    ratings
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    11
    4
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    1
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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
  •  
    R. E. Cohen 12-26-12
    R. E. Cohen 12-26-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    63
    7
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    "Sad sordid story with no redeeming value"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    The historical bits are interesting, but the plot is awful.


    What was most disappointing about Junot Diaz’s story?

    Foul mouthed pointless angst


    What does Jonathan Davis and Staci Snell bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Good characterizations but reading would have been faster. I kept thinking I must get better with so many good reviews.


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

    All the male characters.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    joseph Auburn, CA, United States 09-10-12
    joseph Auburn, CA, United States 09-10-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    14
    3
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    "A brief history of the DR"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Brilliant vivid writing. An almost pathological fixation on sex. The most interesting parts of the story were descriptions of the Dominican dictator, Trujillo. Some disgustingly graphic descriptions of torture. Wanted to stop listening on several occasions but was compelled to continue to find out what happened.


    Which character – as performed by Jonathan Davis and Staci Snell – was your favorite?

    Belli her life's story is truly heartbreaking.


    Do you think The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No!!! The author created a multi generational saga that was compelling seemed plausible and beyond depressing.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shopaholic 06-25-11
    shopaholic 06-25-11 Listener Since 2010
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    24
    1
    Overall
    "The depressing pointless life of Oscar who?"

    If it wasn't for the constant vulgar language that kept rudely interrupting my meandering thoughts I could have listened to this entire book without ever actually paying attention to what was going on in the story. Pretty much all the characters have these traumatic horrific experiences and then the book just ends. The author (who is a jerk) tried to wrap everything up in the end with a few lines from Watchmen that were not thought provoking or enlightening at all. I actually threw my ipod down and said aloud "are you freaking kidding me? That's how this ends?" I mean it didn't even really end, it just trailed off. Oh and to make matters worse I don't speak any spanish at all, this book is obviously not meant for a gringa like me,

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hannaeh Montgomery, AL, USA 06-26-10
    Hannaeh Montgomery, AL, USA 06-26-10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    "Different but amazing."

    At some points the book was confusing and sentences never-ending. But this story was amazing and weaved together things I never imagined could be mixed. Most of all this story was real, I found myself relating to it immensely. It was violent and unabashed but excellent. I wish I knew Spanish, it would have made it much better.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn Atlanta, GA, United States 07-30-09
    Lynn Atlanta, GA, United States 07-30-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    43
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    61
    18
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    "Need a translator if you arent bilingual"

    I missed much of this book because I don't speak Spanish. I want my money back! What I got was not very enjoyable because it was so scattered I couldn't follow the characters or the plot.

    2 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle Alden, MI, United States 04-01-13
    Michelle Alden, MI, United States 04-01-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    3
    2
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    0
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    "Don't bother..."
    What would have made The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao better?

    This was a horrible audible, and not much of a story at all, but after you have invested time, hard not to listen. Maybe the author could have used the "N" word less or not at all....


    Has The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao turned you off from other books in this genre?

    For one, I don't speak Spanish, so I didn't understand a lot of what was said. And again the use of the "N" word was a huge turn off,


    What didn’t you like about Jonathan Davis and Staci Snell ’s performance?

    The story just isn't that good, so even a good aurator can't save this...


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    None, escept that I managed to finish it.


    Any additional comments?

    I was never so happy to finish an audio book.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Nashville, TN, United States 02-28-13
    Ryan Nashville, TN, United States 02-28-13 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    22
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastic book, ok performance"
    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    The story is the best part. Very talented author. The male performance (Johnathan Davis) is poorly selected for the material, and a hispanic male reader would have been a more appropriate choice. The female performance was more fitting to the source material.


    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lemuel G. 03-19-12
    Lemuel G. 03-19-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    13
    5
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    0
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    "I wish Junot Diaz had done the reading himself."
    Would you listen to The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao again? Why?

    No. I didn't like the narrator. He did well at switching between accents and voices but his narrator voice was too much like a radio announcers.


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

    The mother.


    Any additional comments?

    The reading I heard of the Wonderland chapter on Selected Shorts blew the reading of it in the book WAY OUT of the water!

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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