Thursday, March 26, 2009

Junot Diaz/THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO


The story of a fat Dominican sci-fi geek (Oscar) who finally discovers love in the worst possible place. Junot Diaz tells Oscar's story via the stories of his cursed family: his tragic/crazy mother, his sacrificing grandmother, his loving and irresistible punk sister, and his erstwhile college roommate, Yunior (a means of building the author into the story? I suspect so). The narrative is freckled with expository footnotes about Trujillo, his raping pedophile ways, his murderous goons, and the scars of his legacy on the Dominican Republic and its people, both in the DR and abroad.

In terms of fast rewarding reads, this one scores pretty high. I'll admit I didn't care as much about Oscar, his fatness, his suicidal tendencies, or his obsession with Tolkien as I did about the backstory of his family and the author's brightly colored and painful notes about Dominican history. It was only through his (not at all alienating) narrative that I realized how little I knew about the DR (and how much there was to learn, and how much I wanted to learn it).

I'd recommend this to everybody. Like I said, it's so quick and rewarding that I think most people will feel satisfied having read it.

2 comments:

Pamala Knight said...

This one is in my TBR pile and after your review I might have to play Jenga with the books and move it up in the pecking order. Thanks.

Big Jake said...

I thought this book was interesting and a fun read but not great. I liked the way Junot let the characters tell the story in the first person and all the history about Trujillio was interesting, but whatever it was that made this book Pulitzer worthy escaped me.