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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by…
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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Junot Díaz

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9,514393304 (3.87)1 / 579
Member:winteralli
Title:The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Authors:Junot Díaz
Info:Riverhead Trade (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Read
Rating:***1/2
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Work details

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

Recently added byprivate library, Raquel.Valdez, Gwendydd, Netpilgrim, shirsh-dickinson, reader62, mrsrobin, rylthom, ruthhwang
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(see all 21 recommendations)

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English (382)  French (4)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  All (1)  Swedish (1)  All (393)
Showing 1-5 of 382 (next | show all)
Tough Dominican girls living in New Jersey with even tougher mothers--some would say abusive--the daughters call themselves slaves, populate the story. DR girls have a tough life, subject to sexual abuse, discrimination, and constant fighting. They are always trying to establish their place in the U.S., not quite Black, not Puerto Rican. There don't seem to be enough of them to establish a presence so they have to pick sides.

The novel traces back the mother's explosive tendencies to a time she lived in the Dominican Republic with her mother under Trujillo's regime. He demanded absolute loyalty and a take no prisoners attitude, with a penchant for raping young brides and beautiful virgins. Though it doesn't seem to be, the story is about Oscar, an outcast. He doesn't behave like a macho Dominican man and cannot seem to get a girlfriend, probably because he's overweight, odd, and plays too many video games. He blames his misfortune on a family curse. His life changes after a couple of doomed trips to his homeland.

The story is told from the point of view of Oscar's sister's boyfriend. I find this point of view confusing especially because the narrator drops the pronouns at the beginning of sentences. At the end I was left wondering, why him? He had a love interest with Oscar's sister but it was long over. He had a reluctant relationship with Oscar based upon Oscar's sister's pleas, but it didn't seem enough to make him narrate a story.

To get a glimpse into DR history, and Dominican life in the US, this is an interesting read. ( )
  ErinDenver | Jun 12, 2017 |
Damn. This one wrecked me (in a good way), possibly ruined me for all other similar novels. Also, take this link, you'll need it: http://www.annotated-oscar-wao.com/. Without that, I would not have understood a good 60% of the references within. I oddly enough identify with Oscar Wao on several layers, which may or may not be a good thing. Note to self: read Junot Diaz's DROWN before the end of the year. ( )
  SarahHayes | Feb 20, 2017 |
I'm pretty sure I missed out on at least 25% of this book because I don't know Spanish or enough about the sci-fi and fantasy books, movies, and video games referenced, but even so, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is the best book I've ever read. I can't recommend it enough. ( )
  StefanieBrookTrout | Feb 4, 2017 |
I've read it 5 or 6 times now, so every part of it feels very familiar to me. But it's still so powerful. Oscar Wao is a whirlwind tour of twentieth-century Dominican history (that's the island, not the Catholic religious order) and transnational nerdiness. It's also a serious statement about our ill-fated attempts to escape history. Díaz is attuned to the complexities of genre fiction and the novel is layered with inside jokes to any former or current readers of fantasy and/or sci-fi, not to mention with allusions to some of the most influential figures in Western literature: Flaubert, Melville, and Yeats. The beauty! The beauty! ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
Started this for the Summer Fantasy Book Club. It's less fantasy, more fan. But really interesting: there is a shadow of a family curse, allegedly, and there is suggestion of a supernatural figure appearing at key moments. Is it a play on magical realism? Part of the story is set in Trujillo-era Dominican Republic: he and his cronies are given a more visceral and substantial feel of oppression than similar figures in GMM's 100 Years of Solitude. The main character is a Dominican-American fanboy. It took me a while to twig to the fact that the narrator is as well -- he's the one making all the pop cult (SF movies, books, games, etc.) references in the narration. At the same time the narrator is embodying a Dominican idea of masculinity, in contrast to the main character. ( )
  AmyMacEvilly | Dec 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 382 (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 (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Junot Diazprimary authorall editionscalculated
Pareschi, SilviaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Snell, StaciNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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)
Dedication
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.
Quotations
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 12 descriptions

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