Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Books that made a difference to Zoë Saldana

A few months ago the actor Zoë Saldana (Avatar) told O, The Oprah Magazine about a few books that made a difference to her.

One book on her list:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
by Junot Díaz

Oscar Wao is the lowest on the food chain: He is not white, he is not thin, he is not attractive, he is not completely American. Díaz is trying to put you in Oscar's place so you can understand his invisibility. Oscar falls for an older woman who's involved in a situation that can get him killed. Why does he risk it? Because she is the only person who really sees him.

Why she chose it:
Díaz talks about Dominicans and what makes us unique—especially the women. I grew up surrounded by Dominican women who were goddesses. My mother is the heroine of my life, and so are my grandmother and my great-grandmother. The women are the strongest, and Díaz caught that. I also think at certain points in your life, you feel utterly alone and completely invisible. You understand your own impotence, how there's sometimes nothing you can do about it. And that's Oscar.
Read about another book that made a difference to Saldana.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao also appears on Paste magazine's list of the ten best debut novels of the decade (2000-2009) and among The Millions' best books of fiction of the millenium. The novel is one of Matthew Kaminski's five favorite novels about immigrants in America.

See Junot Díaz's most important books and the Page 99 Test: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

--Marshal Zeringue