1. Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007)Read about another book on the list.
The winner in this BBC Culture critics’ poll is Junot Diaz’s first novel, about New Jersey ghetto-nerd Oscar, who dreams of being the Dominican-American Tolkien and finding love. It also was named as the number-one book by the most critics. “It is a big deal for me to fall in love with a book when its DNA is science fiction, fantasy and testosterone,” says Elizabeth Taylor, The Chicago Tribune’s literary editor-at-large. “This was only the second book by a Latino author to receive the Pulitzer Prize in fiction,” notes critic and author Rigoberto Gonzalez. “Oscar Wao reaffirmed the strong connections Latinos maintain with their ancestral homeland’s culture, language and history. It also re-energised these questions: Who is American? What is the American experience?” Critic and playwright Gregg Barrios concurs, “Díaz’s deft mash-up of Dominican history, comics, sci-fi, magic realism and footnotes totally rocks. Nerdy Oscar and the book’s macho narrator Yunior resonate as authentically as Roth’s Portnoy, Updike’s Rabbit, Bellow’s Augie or Toole’s Ignatius.”
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao also appears among Emily Temple's fifty greatest debut novels since 1950, Niall Williams's top ten bookworms' tales, Chrissie Gruebel's nine best last lines in literature, Alexia Nader's nine favorite books about unhappy families, Jami Attenberg's top six books with overweight protagonists, Brooke Hauser's six top books about immigrants, Sara Gruen's six favorite books, Paste magazine's list of the ten best debut novels of the decade (2000-2009), and The Millions' best books of fiction of the millenium. The novel is one of Matthew Kaminski's five favorite novels about immigrants in America and is a book that made a difference to Zoë Saldana.
The Page 99 Test: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.