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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Paperback – September 2, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Meet Oscar de León. Once upon a time, in elementary school, Oscar was a slick Dominican kid who seemed to have a typical life ahead of him. Then, around the time he hit puberty, Oscar gained a whole lot of weight, became awkward both physically and socially, and got deeply interested in things that made him an outcast among his peers (sci-fi novels, comics, Dungeons & Dragons, writing novels, etc.). A particularly unfortunate Dr. Who Halloween costume earns him the nickname Oscar Wao for the costume's resemblance to another Oscar: playwright Oscar Wilde (Wao being a Dominican spin on the surname). His few friends are embarrassed by him, girls want nothing to do with him, and everywhere he goes Oscar finds nothing but derision and hostility. And he's not the only person in his family suffering through life: his mother, a former beauty, has been ravaged by illness, bad love affairs, and worry regarding her two children; and his sister Lola, another intense beauty, has been cursed with a nomadic soul and her mother's poor taste in men.
The kicker about the de León family?Read more ›
To be fair, sometimes the story feels more like "A People's History of the Dominican Republic." than a novel about a geeky kid from New Jersey. Not that this is a bad thing -- Diaz manages to get at the political, economic, and psychological forces that brought so many Dominican immigrants to the U.S . over the last fifty years via captivating and dextrous prose. The dominant theme of this multigenerational story is the "fuku" (curse) Oscar's family lives under. (Of course, as Yunior points out, every Dominican family believes itself to be cursed by the fuku americanus, a curse brought by European colonialists which has turned the Caribbean Eden into a despotic prison to be escaped.)s The fuku first hits Oscar's grandfather, an upper-class doctor undone by the rise of the Trujillo thugocracy (equal to that of Saddam Hussein in horror inflicted on its subjects). His daughter (Oscar's mother) faces her own tragedy due to the fuku, and is the bridge between life in the D.R. and life in America, as she escapes to New York. Her children, Oscar and Lola, represent the generation born and bred in the U.S. -- both connected to, and apart from their Dominican heritage.Read more ›
1. Many readers objected to the heavy use of slang. Rather than offend me, I found the use of slang lyrical and realistic.
2. Like the prior comment, I enjoyed the use of spanglish. My Spanish is pretty good, and the spanglish added color and depth to the novel for me. However, the spanglish was hardly essential, and I was able to skip over those words I didn't know without any loss of enjoyment.
3. I really enjoyed the footnotes, and thought they added depth and uniqueness to the novel. One of the themes of the novel was the interaction of larger historical events (the demonic Trujillo regime) and the life of this family. In this regard, the footnotes were essential. Moreover, I appreciated the unique mixture of this "street" novel and these very detailed historical references.
At the same time, I was surprised to see that there weren't more reviewers that shared my lack of interest in the thoughts and fate of Oscar, the main character. As hard as I tried, I had a hard time empathizing with this character. For me, the best part of a well-written, well developed novel is the opportunity to inhabit the mind, spirit and experiences of another human being, to feel for them, to feel what they feel. For several reasons, I just couldn't get there in this book.
1. Here, the narrator was neither an omniscient voice, nor the main character, but instead, Yunior, another character who related the facts. To me, Yunior's narration was without much insight or understanding. While it was stylistically interesting, it did little to bring Oscar to life.
2.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had a hard time staying with this one!!!! Why do some authors feel they must use a foreign language to such a great extent????? Read morePublished 5 hours ago by D.E.A.R.
...even when they seem doomed. Fantastic storytelling and a little bit of Dominican history thrown in. I recommend this book.Published 1 day ago by D. Joshi
My sister Glynn Anderson in the Santa Fe area recommended this book to me. It is not your normal novel and took me awhile to get into the swing of things. Read morePublished 2 days ago by John C. Anderson
just didn't meet up with what I had read about this book.I put it in my free little library, maybe someone else might find it to their liking.Published 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
It started off well then you get to random stories about the family that have nothing to do with Oscars's life and seem like they're only their to make the book longer. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Thomas O'keefe
I don't speak or read Spanish and there were lots of phrases I didn't understandPublished 10 days ago by Jane Vogel
What a wonderful and unexpected book. It's a wacky, relatable, lovable and emotional ride from beginning to end with beautifully written characters and a very awesome way how it is... Read morePublished 14 days ago by Amazon Customer
Love love love this book and Junot Diaz. It's a irreverent novel that's intermixed with beautiful sophisticated syntax and gritty everyday lingo. Read morePublished 16 days ago by kristen