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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.

Also includes the bestselling short story collection Drown.

©2007 Junot Diaz; (P)2007 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. and Books on Tape

Critic Reviews

"[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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    1,819
  • 4 Stars
    1,196
  • 3 Stars
    647
  • 2 Stars
    232
  • 1 Stars
    183

Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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    1,574
  • 4 Stars
    688
  • 3 Stars
    238
  • 2 Stars
    53
  • 1 Stars
    53

Story

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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    718
  • 3 Stars
    381
  • 2 Stars
    139
  • 1 Stars
    109
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great surprise

Junot Diaz has a great knowledge of DR, and transforms his fantasy into a fantastic story

  • Overall

I see why the book won awards

Loved it. I read it as part of a book club selection. I would recommend

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Ed
  • 11-07-15

Interesting but not exceptional

Ed

Tells about the legacy of the Trujillo dictatorship, the DR immigrant experience and loads of Spanish slang. The story I found to be lacking and ended weakly. Maybe comic book nerds like this story better. I can't see it being worthy of the Pulitzer.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

so good is hard to describe

first off, and this is no spoiler, this is a sad book. all of the characters lives steeped in tragedies and those shape their lives. the second, the performance is amazing, and third the writing is so heart wrenching ly good! my one and only complaint is that there is a fair amount Spanish in the story, and while beautifully performed, my rusty Spanish could not always keep up. had I been reading the book, I could have looked up the phrases.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Dark Humor Plotline

Not sure this would be a book that I would read on my own. I read it as an assignment. It was not a bad book by any means just a lot of dark sometimes violent humor that is taken as everyday things. Author lessens the violent truth with linguistically vulgar (both cursing and sexual) humor. Not dreadful. Not outstanding.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Waited for it

I kept waiting for the story to grip me and to get excited about this book, but it never happened. It is possible that I didn't fully understand the book since you must understand a bit of Spanish to get through it. I believe some of the nuances of the story were lost on me during the Spanish portions which were not translated in the audiobook. Had I had a hard copy of this book I may have looked up the meanings of the words.

  • Overall
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Beautiful book

Wow...worth every dollar and more..I was completely CAPTIVATED...The narrators took me with them...BEAUTIFUL WRITING :)

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Rachel
  • MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA, United States
  • 07-23-15

Awful, couldn't get past the first few chapters

What could Junot Diaz have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

The writer seems capable of painting a vivid picture and setting up the storytelling framework but I found the content vulgar and boring.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

a fun tragedy

this is a tale is told in a way that makes the sad story an adventure of a lifetime. my favourite element was the storytelling, the use of expressions and dialect made the story feel familiar and real. I loved how it all plays out, our doomed protagonist truly is wondrous like the great tragedies of the Greeks.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Well told story, beautiful ending.

Thus is a good book with great characters and writing style. Worth giving it a listen