About the book, from the publisher:
Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar 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 Fukœ-the curse that has haunted the Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.Among the praise for the novel:
Díaz immerses us in the tumultuous life of Oscar and the history of the family at large, rendering with genuine warmth and dazzling energy, humor, and insight the Dominican-American experience, and, ultimately, the endless human capacity to persevere in the face of heartbreak and loss. A true literary triumph, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao confirms Junot Díaz as one of the best and most exciting voices of our time.
"Díaz's gutsy short story collection Drown (1996) made the young Dominican American a literary star. Readers who have had to wait a decade for his first novel are now spectacularly rewarded. Paralleling his own experiences growing up in the Dominican Republic and New Jersey, he has choreographed a family saga at once sanguinary and sexy that confronts the horrific brutality at loose during the reign of the dictator Trujillo. Díaz's besieged characters look to the supernatural for explanations and hope, from fukú, the curse unleashed when Europeans arrived on Hispaniola, to the forces dramatized in the works of science fiction and fantasy so beloved by the chubby ghetto nerd Oscar Wao, the brilliantly realized boy of conscience at the center of this whirlwind tale. Writing in a combustible mix of slang and lyricism, Díaz loops back and forth in time and place, generating sly and lascivious humor in counterpoint to tyranny and sorrow. And his characters—Oscar, the hopeless romantic; Lola, his no-nonsense sister; their heartbroken mother; and the irresistible homeboy narrator—cling to life with the magical strength of superheroes, yet how vibrantly human they are. Propelled by compassion, Díaz's novel is intrepid and radiant."Read an excerpt from The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and learn more about the book and author at Junot Díaz's website.
--Booklist (starred review)
"The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a book that speaks in tongues. This long-awaited novel by Junot D’az is a masterpiece about our New World, its myths, curses, and bewitching women. Set in America's navel, New Jersey, and haunted by the vision of Trujillo's brutal reign over the Dominican Republic, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is radiant with the hard lives of those who leave and also those who stay behind-it is a rousing hymn about the struggle to defy bone-cracking history with ordinary, and extraordinary, love."
--Walter Mosley, author of Devil in a Blue Dress and Cinammon Kiss
"Terrific... Narrated in high-energy Spanglish, the book is packed with wide-ranging cultural references - to Dune, Julia Alvarez, The Sound of Music - as well as erudite and hilarious footnotes on Caribbean history. It is a joy to read, and every bit as exhilarating to reread."
--Jennifer Reese, Entertainment Weekly
"Astoundingly great.... You could call The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao the saga of an immigrant family, but that wouldn't really be fair. It's an immigrant-family saga for people who don't read immigrant-family sagas."
--Lev Grossman, Time
"Now that D’az's second book, a novel called The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, has finally arrived, younger writers will find that the bar. And some older writers - we know who we are - might want to think about stepping up their game. Oscar Wao shows a novelist engaged with the culture, high and low, and its polyglot language."
--David Gates, Newsweek
"In the imagination of many writers it is the untold stories that propel-those vibrant, colorful, magical, historical swirls of humanity that make up our knowing. Junot D’az's wondrous first novel offers that and more, enchanting us with energetic poetry and offering us a splendid portrait of ordinary folks set against the extraordinary cruel history of the Dominican Republic in the 20th century. Those of us who have for years known and marveled at Mr. D’az's stories will not be disappointed."
--Edward P. Jones
Junot Díaz's fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The Best American Short Stories. His debut story collection, Drown was a national bestseller and won numerous awards. Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times called The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao “a book that decisively establishes him as one of contemporary fiction's most distinctive and irresistible new voices.”
The Page 99 Test: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.