Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Book Review: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Awhile ago, I bought two books by author Junot Diaz -- Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I started with Drown, twice, but I never really got into it. Then, I mostly forgot about both books until recently. This time I picked up Oscar Wao. And, I'm glad that I did.

Through the book's narrator, Yunior, we are introduced to Oscar, an affable urban DR variation of Ignatius J. Reilly (The Confederacy of Dunces). Yunior, who is also a character in Drown, becomes a sort of keeper of Oscar, both during and after his life. An eventual friend whose devotion to Oscar is evident in the care that he takes in describing him, exposing him, explaining him, remembering him. And while Oscar's life is mostly a solitary one, his story is not. It weaves in and out, layer upon layer, from New Jersey to the DR and back and forth again, connecting him to his family, his friends, and, ultimately, his history -- the ancestral fuku ("the curse") -- that continues to haunt Oscar and the other characters in the story.

The book is an amazing piece of fiction yet it also informs us about the complexities of intimacy, identity, homeland, and oppression. Because of this, it's hard not to get quickly absorbed into Oscar's world and feel compelled by Diaz's rich characters and their stories. No wonder this book won both the highly coveted Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award.


Bill said...

Where is all the drawing on the cover?

Christine said...

Hahaha. I should have scanned the cover of our copy. That would have been funnier.

KBO said...

I loved this book so much. I couldn't put it down.