Reader reviews and comments on The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, plus links to write your own review.

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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

A Novel

by Junot Diaz

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2007, 352 pages
    Sep 2008, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lucia Silva

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There are currently 4 reader reviews for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
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miki (01/25/11)

good except....
This is a very good book but I could not enjoy it at all. there was way too much cursing and I understand that it is a part of the"book's emotion" but if cursing every page is a problem as it is for me than its not possible to enjoy. Also if you can not understand Spanish than this book may become a little confusing and you will not be able to enjoy the full effect and powerfulness of the text. And many told me that our group can relate to this book and if your life is not remarkably tragic,are hispanic,or a complete outcast then you can not relate to this book.The only way I can relate is partially to his obsession with anime. I was honestly looking forward to reading this because of how a teacher described it( it could not be read at that time because a parent did not approve of the foul language and now i can see why) but now I feel a distance from myself and the people I know who enjoyed the book, luckily there aren't many I'm close to.
Ali_BL (07/21/08)

Fantastic novel, not too happy about how dominican men are portrayed
This book is well written, smart, funny and unpretentious, and it has one of the few endings that have made me cry, ever. Unlike other books where you are built up and feel disappointed about the lack or originality in which the story unfolds, this book keeps you interested until the last page (though the title suggest what will happen).

I loved how the story was told by and unexpected person and loved learning the story of the whole family rather than just the main character, as it gives you and idea of how they became what they were and why so unusual it is to find a person like Oscar in it.

It does, however, have a bittersweet taste for me as a Dominican (born, raised and living in the DR) given that it portrays Dominican men to be insensitive and compulsive cheaters, being Wao himself the only exception. Again he is a "nerd", and that is unusual to find (as said in the book) amongst Dominican men.

In conclusion, very recommended, I will surely read this book again.
Power Reviewer Kim (04/13/08)

Deserving of the hype.
What an odd book! It’s without doubt one of the most unusual novels I’ve ever read. I think I did like it, more or less, and I recommend reading it. It’s so different, though, that it left me unsure for awhile as to how I felt about it. I’m sure, though, it’ll stick with me a long time, and it motivated me enough to read other works by this author.

The book’s description doesn’t provide a good idea of what it’s actually about. The jacket makes the reader think it’ll be a coming-of-age story, with the protagonist being a nerdy New York boy from the Dominican Republic. Some of it is, in fact, just that. There’s a lot more to this novel, however. There’s quite a lot of Dominican Republic history here, as well as the stories of Oscar’s mother and sister, as narrated by another individual (who isn’t revealed until about halfway through the book). The plot jumps around a lot, although the divisions are clear enough that it’s easy to follow the plot line. It was entertaining, and in places chuckle-out-loud funny.

The author slips in a lot of Spanish, and as someone who knows very little Spanish, I found this frustrating. He also included numerous fantasy references. If you’re not familiar with Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and other classics of this genre, you may feel lost.

Overall, though, a fantastic novel. Very original.
J. Arnold (10/08/07)

Provocative voices and enthralling history
Diaz's first novel, after his short story collection Drown, is an exciting entry in the growing list of Caribbean literature. Diaz tells the story of the unlucky - in so many ways - Oscar de Leon through multiple voices, detailing the fuku that appears to curse's family. Each one of these voices tells Oscar's sad story, but also the modern history of the Dominican Republic and Dolinicians in The United States. The voice of the main narrator - Yunior, a collegiate friend and tormentor of Oscar - is brilliant. Using a fast-talking, Spanish-sprinkling, name-dropping, pop-culture-referenced voice, Yunior draws the reader into Oscar and his family; the reader is also drawn into the 30 year rule of the country's dictator, which shapes Oscar's fate as Oscar and his mother are linked to Oscar's grandfather - an early victim of the dictator. The book, by a young, emerging author, is enthralling and enjoyable!
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