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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (edition 2008)

by Junot Diaz

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,154338384 (3.86)1 / 475
Member:xuesheng
Title:The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Authors:Junot Diaz
Info:Riverhead Trade (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 339 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Fiction, own, 1001 books, read(2013), 13 in 13, New Jersey, USA, Dominican Republic, Trujillo, curse, Pulitzer

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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

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English (328)  French (4)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Catalan (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (338)
Showing 1-5 of 328 (next | show all)
I have heard so many good things about this book over the past few years. I ran across a nice first edition at a good price in San Francisco this summer so I picked it up. It wasn't until late October that I cracked it open and started reading it. I really liked the book but its hard to describe. It reads a little like Love in the Time of Cholera with some Michael Chabon nerdiness mixed in. I pretty much know nothing about the Dominican Republic but now I feel like I'm at least nominally familiar with the general history and culture. In general, I don't normally have my laptop open and next to me while I read fiction, but this time it couldn't be helped. Diaz drops so many obscure fantasy and sci-fi crumbs that I was constantly looking up odd superheros and lost planets. At the same time, I was also looking up prominent Dominican Republicans just to stay on top of the plot. Writing like this seems like its done in a special language laid out just for me. Diaz is writing to the literary geeks who read Marquez and Bolano but also play DnD. We are few and far between so its a pleasant surprise that this book did so well. It gives me hope. ( )
  BenjaminHahn | Nov 24, 2014 |
This is the kind of book which reminds me what reading should be all about, great writing and story. Junot Diaz's prose sang to me, even the references I was too busy to look up.

Oscar comes from a long line of Dominicans whose lives have been cursed. Dude cannot catch a break. He is sweet, extremely nerdy, and fat. Oscar only wants one thing in life, to get laid (which is both a tacky understatement and overstatement). No matter how hard he tries, he just cannot pull it off to talk to girls, much less get physical. His life ends in tragedy.

Somehow, Diaz writes about the violence surrounding Oscar and his family and makes it bearable, interesting in a perverse sort of way. And somehow, Diaz tells this story about brutality and makes it uplifting, again in a weird, perverse sort of way.

I was completely delighted with Junot Diaz's storytelling style, and with Oscar. ( )
  AuntieClio | Nov 12, 2014 |
*review removed for being bad* ( )
  wjmcomposer | Nov 5, 2014 |
*review removed for being bad* ( )
  wjmcomposer | Nov 5, 2014 |
Really awesome. I am of course slightly biased, it being Dominican and all, but I thought the writing was really pretty awesome. Two particular phrases that I really liked: "Imaginate", which in Spanish, with an diacritic on the second 'i', is a common term meaning imagine or picture it, nd in English becomes this fun neologism. The second one was the phrase "colmado superstar", which I thought was great because it created such a vivid image in my mind. The superstar of the colmado, those little corner stores that pump bachata and merengue out into the streets, where people go to buy two eggs at a time, a cup of flower, telephone minutes, really cheap batteries, and everything else. The people who hang out there, playing dominoes, drinking Presidente... yes, I can picture the colmado superstars of La Isleta, where I lived.

Also thought this book was great for the historical aspects, especially the bits about the Trujillo regime which overflow into footnotes throughout the novel. Definitely recommend it! ( )
  GraceZ | Sep 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 328 (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 (30 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Junot Diazprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Diaz, Junotmain authorall 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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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
From book cover: Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd, a New Jersey romantic who dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the fukú--the ancient curse that has haunted Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still dreaming of his first kiss, is only its most recent victim--until the fateful summer that he decides to be its last.

With dazzling energy and insight, Junot Diaz immerses us in the uproarious lives of our hero Oscar, his runaway sister Lola, and their ferocious beauty-queen mother Belicia, and in the family's epic journey from Santo Domingo to Washington Heights to NewJersey's Bergenline and back again. Rendered with uncommon warmth and humor, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao presents an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and the endless human capacity to persevere--and to risk all--in the name of love.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0739494287, Paperback)

Brief biographical study.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:55 -0400)

(see all 4 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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