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

Oh, Oscar.  Everything just always seemed out of your grasp, didn’t it?  And you tried to just roll with it…  but how do you go against the fuku curse that has followed your family for generations?

Oscar was that gentle overweight nerd we all knew in high school.  All he ever wanted to feel was love reciprocated (because he certainly fell in love countless times)…  but falling for the wrong person is a habit in his family, and the consequences are just horrific.  This tale doesn’t start and end with Oscar, it also includes his sister Lola, his mother and his grandmother…  in ways you’ll never be able to forget.  This is a brutal history, with funny and passionate characters, and lets not forget the nation of the Dominican Republic.  The way the country itself reaches in and takes hold.

I had purchased this book years ago, and I’m so glad I finally read it.  I really didn’t know what to expect…  I didn’t know much other that it won the Pulitzer Prize a few years ago.  But this really is something else.  The language flows in such an exciting and in your face kind of way – and it is completely within context.  There is one narrator, whom isn’t identified right away, who tells this family’s story within a historical context.  Each chapter centers on one character, and their contribution to how Oscar came to be Oscar.  Each chapter carries its own tone and vocabulary in a sense, and it all comes together in the end like the pieces of a puzzle.  It is just brilliant.

I want to say something about the brutality exhibited in some scenes and the dry humor in others…  but I don’t really know how to do it elegantly, so I’ll just leave it at that.  This is just such a big story – much bigger than I imagined it would be – and I just loved it.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
by Junot Diaz
Riverhead Books, 2007
335 pages
Source:  Purchased Used

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