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

by Junot Díaz

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8,870379339 (3.86)1 / 526
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
Tags:None

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

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English (369)  French (4)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Catalan (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (379)
Showing 1-5 of 369 (next | show all)
This was good. Really good.

Be prepared for difficult descriptions of violence under the Trujillo dictatorship, and also for some Spanish phrases that aren't translated. (If I'd been reading the hard copy I would have looked them up, but I couldn't because I was listening in my car, which drove me a little crazy. Almost crazy enough that I want to go get the paper copy now and do some googling... But maybe that's too crazy.)

I love the structure of the book, the way it goes from one person's story to another, skipping around in time but feeling totally connected the whole way. Oscar provides the premise, but to me, the women in his family were the really compelling characters: I did not like Beli, but wow, did I feel for her. I loved Lola, could relate to her, wanted her to get away and get everything she wanted. I loved La Inca, wished she could have raised Lola and Oscar instead of Beli, who is horrible. I've seen this in other reviews, and I agree, that it's amazing how Diaz makes such a very specific set of circumstances feel universal and relatable, no matter how distant your own experience is.

Also, a few days ago I went on Facebook and saw that I have some friends-of-a-friend named Trujillo. What.
  mirikayla | Feb 8, 2016 |
I agree with someone else that said this book is neither brief nor wondorous. I found myself just wishing it was over. Now I am reading the other book Drown and it is ok but not much better than this book ( )
  LaBla | Feb 6, 2016 |
12/07 I had heard a lot about this book, and did enjoy it, but although I could understand it, I felt left out a lot of the time due to the amount of Dominican Spanish employed in the story. A lot of books set in other linguistic cultures use smaller chunks, repeat the meaning in English or use a glossary. Some of the narrators were easier to read, and although I found the footnotes interesting, I noticed near the end, when the footnotes took a break, I was really enjoying the smoothness. A little difficult, kind of pushes you to think a little harder than your typical story, but in the end, worth it. ( )
  thukpa | Feb 6, 2016 |
12/07 I had heard a lot about this book, and did enjoy it, but although I could understand it, I felt left out a lot of the time due to the amount of Dominican Spanish employed in the story. A lot of books set in other linguistic cultures use smaller chunks, repeat the meaning in English or use a glossary. Some of the narrators were easier to read, and although I found the footnotes interesting, I noticed near the end, when the footnotes took a break, I was really enjoying the smoothness. A little difficult, kind of pushes you to think a little harder than your typical story, but in the end, worth it. ( )
  thukpa | Feb 6, 2016 |
12/07 I had heard a lot about this book, and did enjoy it, but although I could understand it, I felt left out a lot of the time due to the amount of Dominican Spanish employed in the story. A lot of books set in other linguistic cultures use smaller chunks, repeat the meaning in English or use a glossary. Some of the narrators were easier to read, and although I found the footnotes interesting, I noticed near the end, when the footnotes took a break, I was really enjoying the smoothness. A little difficult, kind of pushes you to think a little harder than your typical story, but in the end, worth it. ( )
  thukpa | Feb 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 369 (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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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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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)

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