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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by…

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Junot Díaz

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8,691362351 (3.86)1 / 513
Title:The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Authors:Junot Díaz
Info:Riverhead Hardcover (2007), Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:September, 2008, borrowed, library, @read: not in library

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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (2007)


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English (352)  French (4)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Catalan (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (362)
Showing 1-5 of 352 (next | show all)
A real solid book. Diaz does a great job of mixing in Dominican history with the narrative story. His characters are sharp. A lot of Spanish slang mixed throughout and unlike other books that do this, Diaz doesn't alway contextualize the Spanish. Overall a fascinating read and one that will teach you something as well. ( )
  BooksOn23rd | Nov 25, 2015 |
I liked the writing very much of this coming of age story of a dominican-american young man. i did not like the many spanish words included and also do not know the science fiction and video game references. i especially appreciated learning some of the history of the dominican republic as the story of oscar's family. ( )
  suesbooks | Oct 25, 2015 |
Incredible prose. Junot Diaz tells the tale of Oscar and his colorful family in such a vibrant and stunning way. A deeper look into what it means to be Dominican. ( )
  trile1000 | Oct 23, 2015 |
Such an amazing tale! Churning with beauty and tragedy and hope and delirious joy; haunting and heart-shatteringly sincere.

THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE is about tradition, obsession, comic books & geek culture, sex, the sordid and dazzling history of the Dominican Republic (and specifically, its capital city Santo Domingo) and the passionate and terrifyingly vibrant family entangled in the country's brutal destiny.

Diaz's novel sparkles with spanglish, fabulisms, and dork-references (Marvel & DC, Sci-fi, and Lord of the Rings), New York immigrant melting-pot dynamics, the terror of adolescence, the confusion of coming into adulthood. Damn book broke my heart...

If I'm to compare it to current novelists, I'd have to say it has the same energy & creative quality of Nicole Krauss' HISTORY OF LOVE and Jonathan Safran Foer's EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE.

I hate pithy one-sentence comparisons, but for this I'd have to say: if Gabriel Garcia Marquez had grown up on a steady diet of hip-hop, Comics, SF & Fantasy and role-playing games, he'd have written THE BRIEF WONDEROUS LIFE... ( )
  VladVerano | Oct 20, 2015 |
(32) I am very late reading this former Pulitzer Prize winner from ~2008. Oscar Wao is an obese nerdy immigrant from the Dominican Republic growing up in the 70's in New Jersey. Why his life was both brief and wondrous is the crux of the novel. It seems his life somehow symbolized the end of a family curse, or perhaps something even larger than that. Perhaps standing up to dictatorship and corruption. Perhaps breaking the mold of stereotypes. Perhaps redefining what it means to be American. Hard to say for sure, but the novel was enjoyable and cleverly written, thought perhaps a tad too crude for my prudish taste re: sexually explicit.

Another warning for readers . . . Umm, there is ALOT of untranslated Spanish. Again, maybe redefining what it means to be American. Duh, we are essentially becoming a bilingual country, the rest of us need to get with the program. I really liked our narrator's voice. I loved the more historic fiction interlude re: Oscars grandparents and the Trujillo fuko. Oscar was indeed endearing and I so wished for something better for hiim. I loved the backstory on all the characters and easily immersed myself into each storyline, although always eager to return to Oscar.

The star off comes from a bit of disappointment with the rambling ending. I didn't quite get it, truth be told. Overall, though, well-done. Great narrative voice and sense of place. Beautiful characterization. Great dialogue. I can appreciate the Pulitzer for the most part, despite the unsettling and unsatisfying ending. I am inspired to find out more of the history of the DR and to slip the word "muchacha" into conversation more often. ( )
  jhowell | Oct 10, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 352 (next | show all)
Díaz’s novel also has a wild, capacious spirit, making it feel much larger than it is. Within its relatively compact span, “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” contains an unruly multitude of styles and genres. The tale of Oscar’s coming-of-age is in some ways the book’s thinnest layer, a young-adult melodrama draped over a multigenerational immigrant family chronicle that dabbles in tropical magic realism, punk-rock feminism, hip-hop machismo, post-postmodern pyrotechnics and enough polymorphous multiculturalism to fill up an Introduction to Cultural Studies syllabus.
It is Mr. Díaz’s achievement in this galvanic novel that he’s fashioned both a big picture window that opens out on the sorrows of Dominican history, and a small, intimate window that reveals one family’s life and loves. In doing so, he’s written a book that decisively establishes him as one of contemporary fiction’s most distinctive and irresistible new voices.

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Junot Diazprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Snell, StaciNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Of what import are brief, nameless lives . . . to Galactus?? (Fantastic Four, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Vol. 1, No. 49, April 1966)
Christ have mercy on all sleeping things!
From that dog rotting down Wrightson Road
to when I was a dog on these streets;
if loving these islands must be my load,
out of corruption my soul takes wings,
But they had started to poison my soul
with their big house, big car, bit-time hbohl,
coolie, nigger, Syrian, and French Creole,
so I leave it for them and their carnival--
I taking a sea-bath, I gone down the road.
I know these islands from Monos to Nassau,
a rusty head sailor with sea-green eyes
that they nickname Shabine, the patois for
any red nigger, and I, Shabine, saw
when these slums of empire was paradise.
I'm just a red nigger who love the sea,
I had a sound colonial education,
I have Dutch, nigger, and English in me,
and either I'm nobody, or I'm a nation.
(Derek Walcott)
Elizabeth de Leon
First words
They say it came first from Africa, carried in the screams of the enslaved; that it was the death bane of the Tainos, uttered just as one world perished and another began; that it was a demon drawn into Creation through the nightmare door that was cracked open in the Antilles.
You wanna smoke?
I might partake. Just a little though. I would not want to cloud my faculties.
“They say it came first from Africa, carried in the screams of the enslaved; that it was the death bane of the Tainos, uttered just as one world perished and another began; that it was a demon drawn into Creation through the nightmare door that was cracked open in the Antilles. Fukú americanus, or more colloquially, fukú–generally a curse or a doom of some kind; specifically the Curse and the Doom of the New World. Also called the fukú of the Admiral because the Admiral was both its midwife and one of its great European victims; despite “discovering” the New World the Admiral died miserable and syphilitic, hearing (dique) divine voices. In Santo Domingo, the Land He Loved Best (what Oscar, at the end, would call the Ground Zero of the New World), the Admiral’s very name has become synonymous with both kinds of fukú, little and large; to say his name aloud or even to hear it is to invite calamity on the heads of you and yours.”
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0739494287, Paperback)

Brief biographical study.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:23 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Oscar, an overweight Dominican from a New Jersey ghetto, dreams of becoming a writer and finding love, but a Fuku curse has haunted his family for generations, and may well prevent him from attaining his desires.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 14 descriptions

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