Books in Brief: "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz


THE TITLE: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007)

THE AUTHOR: Junot Díaz, a Dominican-American writer who immigrated to New Jersey with his family at a young age. He received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2008 for this novel, his debut. 

THE BRIEF: Expanded from a short story originally published in the New Yorker, Díaz uses sharp, multilingual humor to relay the tale of Oscar – an overweight, Dominican boy searching for love. Details of a generational family curse that follows Oscar from the Dominican Republic to his new home in New Jersey. fuses the supernatural with a folkloric sci-fi concept. The second book by a Latino author to receive the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, Diaz's novel contains elements of magic realism we saw in the work of great South American writers such as Gabriel García Márquez. 

THE FIRST PAGE: “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.”


The Boston Globe“Díaz’s mastery of his characters – their hearts and the heart of the country from which they come – imbues ‘Oscar Wao’ with grace and soul.” 

The Guardian: “Funny, unapologetic and intensely readable, [Díaz’s] novel has a fine sense of itself as a performance rather than something ominously lapidary.

The New York Times: “a wondrous, not-so-brief first novel that is so original it can only be described as Mario Vargas Llosa meets “Star Trek” meets David Foster Wallace meets Kanye West.”