Book Review: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
By Junot Díaz

This book is one of my favorite random book picks ever. It helped me understand that I love immigrant stories, a large age range in the characters and stories about the cursed. Yet the BEST part of this book is Junot Díaz's storytelling.

Diaz tells the story from a number of different characters. There is, of course, Oscar, who is a gigantic, hopeless nerd, literally and figuratively. His older sister Lola is a tall, beautiful Dominican. Yunior is one of her boyfriends. And then there's Oscar and Lola's mom - Beli, probably one of the absolute fiercest characters I've ever met in a story.

The book not only follows Oscar's life, but that of his family's going back to his great-grandfather's time. Diaz talks about fuku - a generational curse that plagues generations of Oscar's family after his grandfather refuses to let the dictator Rafael Trujillo sleep with his young daughter. All throughout the story, Diaz inserts Caribbean history and always keeps it interesting and relevant. After reading some more reviews, I realized that it was also a very politically charged book, but my knowledge wasn't really deep enough to pick up on that.

This story was as fascinating to me as it was foreign. While I've read authors from all over the world, I've never read anything quite like this. It was such a complete a look into the lives of Dominican immigrants and a look into a culture that I might have gotten otherwise. There is heavy use of Spanglish. At first the Spanglish was very distracting, but as the story captivated me, I just simply let go. If I ever decided to reread this, I would take the time to learn more Spanish. I could tell there was a bounty of delightful Spanish swear words.

This book gets pretty heavy pretty often, but it is a wonderful book and very worthy of the Pulitzer Prize.

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