Book Review: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Published: September 2007 by Riverhead books

Pages: 335

Genre: Fiction

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Publisher’s blurb: 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 Fukœ—the curse that has haunted the 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.

The Author: Junot Diaz was  born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Drown; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award. A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

My Thoughts: I started reading this book at the end of August until my world came crashing down with the passing on of my beloved aunt, and three weeks later my precious mother. My whole life stopped and so did my journey with this book. I made a conscious effort to pick it up again as a way to distract me from my grief and the excruciating pain that had completely enveloped my entire being. As always Junot Diaz was overly entertaining with this one but most importantly it served as a very detailed history lesson on the Dominican Republic for me. The craziness of the entire story was unbelievably real and thought provoking in so many ways. Oscar’s character was one that got me in a rollercoaster of emotions, some  of which I could relate to and others were clearly out of this world. Being African, the “Fuku” was not strange to me as we also have our own variant of it  where it is believed that a particular family was cursed due to one reason or the other, causing terrible things to happen to members of that family spanning generations. I am trying not to give any spoilers but I must comment on how Oscar’s whole life and his experiences broke my heart every single time and no matter how I hoped that things would eventually look up for him, it just never really happened. Nevertheless, the main story teller in this book Junior, whose character was already a friend of mine as we had met in the book ‘This is how you lose her’ which I read earlier in the year (Please read my thoughts on this book also) was typical of himself – Crazy, funny and completely outrageous as usual. I love the way the author tied these two books together, going back and forth, seeming to make sense and then sometimes seemed meaningless. In a nutshell, this book really served its purpose, a huge distraction and Yes! I laughed quite a number of times giving me some illusion of normalcy. I recommend this book on many levels, history, entertainment, romance and suspense. I will now move on to another distraction…… preferably another book.



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