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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 2007)

by Junot Díaz (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
11,660455426 (3.85)1 / 623
Things have never been easy for Oscar. A ghetto nerd living with his Dominican family in New Jersey, he's sweet but disastrously overweight. He dreams of becoming the next J.R.R. Tolkien and he keeps falling in love. But poor Oscar may never get what he wants, thanks to the ancient curse that has haunted his family for generations.… (more)
Member:MaryKirkpatrick
Title:The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Authors:Junot Díaz (Author)
Info:Riverhead Books (2007), 354 pages
Collections:Your library
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Work details

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

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» See also 623 mentions

English (446)  French (4)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Catalan (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (455)
Showing 1-5 of 446 (next | show all)
The language put me off quite a lot, keeping me from really enjoying the book. I understand that's the author's intention and style of the narrator, but I feel if it was dialed down a little, the story would've come through without the unnecessary force.

Belicia and her father's stories were the most remarkable. These were truly interesting characters, with blemishes and all. Born in the worst of times, but making for truly interesting reading, if not a good retrospective on what-not-to-do-when-living-in-a-Banana-Republic.

Oscar, meanwhile, came across as unlikeable for me. There's a limit to just how likeable a naïve character may be. His level was off the charts, especially the mistakes he kept on making throughout the story. I understand that's just the sort of person he's meant to be, but even idiots aren't that, well, idiotic.

If you're looking for an easy, light read and don't mind vulgar language and a stupendously idiotic titular character, then definitely dive right in.
( )
  bdgamer | Sep 10, 2021 |
I think that this book had some seams that were showing where the various narratives were stitched together. But it's hard to say because it was explicitly constructed as several narratives and it may have been all explained. Maybe I'll read it again some day and see. I had to skim some of the Trujillo era violence, i.e. the end of Abelard. This book took me to school about Caribbean history. I didn't realize that the DR dictator clamped down that much harder after the communist revolution in nearby Cuba.
Just figured out how to get my library's ebook audiobook borrowing to work. Lin Manuel Miranda does the reading (plus a woman who does Lola's narrative) and he's great!
The mashup of history/science fiction/English/Spanish/etcetc is a beautiful thing. ( )
  Je9 | Aug 10, 2021 |
Beautifully written - compelling story. I actually woke up early this morning to finish the last few pages. ( )
  scoene | Jul 13, 2021 |
I just can't give this three stars. The few positives were: it is a sweeping historical and cultural overview of the Dominican Republic and its people, and it follows a family with much sadness or tragedy back and forth in time. The many more negatives were: switching narrators, I did not think Diaz managed to create the kind of hip vibe he intended, I really disliked his frequent use of Spanish without explanation (sometimes you could tell what was said or written because of the context, but not usually), slow plot, it was hard to like the characters, and while I was able to get the sci fi references, many readers would not. ( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
I loved the narrative voice of this book, I could almost hear Yunior tell the story of the Cabral/ DeLeon family. I also liked the further insight that I got into the history of the DR. I had a hard time getting into this book though because of the frequent stops I had to make to read footnotes or figure out Spanish translations. Most books with a foreign language, give more context or repeat the phrase in English; I had to work a bit harder for this one. And while I did feel empathy for the characters, I had a hard time connecting. Maybe I just missed something with this. ( )
  slittleson | Jul 6, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 446 (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 (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Junot Díazprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bragg, BillCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Corral, RodrigoCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Some editions contain the short story "Drown," narrated by Jonathan Davis
Publisher's editors
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Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

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Wikipedia in English (4)

Things have never been easy for Oscar. A ghetto nerd living with his Dominican family in New Jersey, he's sweet but disastrously overweight. He dreams of becoming the next J.R.R. Tolkien and he keeps falling in love. But poor Oscar may never get what he wants, thanks to the ancient curse that has haunted his family for generations.

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