When first published, it was widely seen as marking the arrival of a young writer to be reckoned with. Although it was laid out as a story collection, Drown wasn't billed as such by its publishers. Some reviewers saw it as being close to reportage, others as a fragmentary autobiographical novel. It could also be seen as belonging to the efflorescence of tough, post- "minimalist" American stories as produced by such figures as Thom Jones and Denis Johnson.
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Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. 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. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.
Diaz 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. Get A Copy.
Hardcover , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Do you think this book was good enough to warrant the high accolades it went on to receive?
Gabriela Yes. Because Diaz has no difficulty from weaving a comprehensible story from two languages without making you want to check a dictionary.
Because the …more Yes. Because the story of Oscar's life is nothing without the background remembrance of Abelard, Beli, Lola wondrous' lives. Because you can't figure out from sentence 2 who narrates this book and this gives the book that je ne sais quoi that keep you going.
Because there are far too many atrocities committed by dictators all over the world that we have no clue about and that we are bound to know and to prevent from happening.
And also because it's not our duty to decide whether one author or the other deserve the awards they receive - what makes you feel like you're qualified to judge upon this?! Who narrates the first section, Oscars childhood and teen years? There are some times when the narrator slips into first person, suggesting that there is some relationship to Oscar and his family.
Gabriela This answer contains spoilers… view spoiler [As discovered by mid-section of the book, the narrator is Yunior, a guy who's into Lola and ends up being Oscar's bf. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jun 17, Cameron rated it did not like it. It's terrible. Here's the review I wrote when it came out. I stand by this completely. If someone says they read this and liked it, punch them in the throat.
I'm kidding, naturally. Imagine if, before Macomber is "accidentally" shot by his wife on that safari, Hemingway decided to pad the narrative with a couple hundred pages about Macomber's mother, sister, and grandfather -- tangents that only serve to betray the proper focus of the story, its title, and the reader's trust.
Diaz, now 38, burst on the literary scene in with his well-received collection of short stories, "Drown," which critics and readers both loved. I've been meaning to read it for some time, and when I learned he was coming out with a novel, I figured the timing was perfect: I'd sample his lone collection of short stories, get a flavor for his style, and then progress to the novel.
Unfortunately, the library's sole copy has been checked out for weeks, so I didn't get to read "Drown" before experiencing "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," which happens to be one of the most erratic, ill-conceived and annoying books I've ever encountered. The book begins with short-lived promise. We meet dorky Oscar as a high school sophomore living in Paterson, N. The mother had been born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, but immigrated to the United States in the early s.
The kids' father, whom she met on the plane to the states, took off a long time ago, and the story of his flight from domesticity is about the only case of love-gone-bad that isn't described in excruciating detail in this book. Crazy love is the family's curse or fuku, which is the superstitious element of magical realism that threads through the novel.
That's the only reason I could glean, anyway. So, Oscar's personal fuku is that he loves girls, but they don't love him. And basically, they don't love him because he doesn't look like Enrique Iglesias. To hear Diaz tell it, Oscar's the only Dominican who doesn't. Couldn't play sports for bleep , dominoes, was beyond uncoordinated, threw a ball like a girl.
Had no knack for music or business or dance, no hustle, no rap, no G. And most damning of all: no looks. He wore his semi-kink hair in a Puerto Rican afro, rocked enormous Section 8 glasses…sported an unappealing trace of mustache on his upper lip and possessed a pair of close-set eyes that made him look somewhat retarded. Dude wore his nerdiness like a Jedi wore his light saber or a Lensman her lens.
Couldn't have passed for Normal if he'd wanted to. Truthfully, wanting to know does help drag the reader through the novel. But learning the identity isn't ultimately rewarding; it's annoying.
Early on, the forward momentum of the novel stalls and the narrative flashes back in time and focuses on Lola, the sister, and how she ran away from home in the s; and then to the mother, Belicia, and how she was a star-crossed lover herself in the Dominican Republic. The mother's section of the book lasts 90 pages and covers the years Unfortunately, it never did, and the reasons seem clear. Not only is the narrative timeline all over the place, but important information -- be it dialogue or exposition -- is often relayed in Spanish.
Now, I took two semesters of the language in college and yet I had no idea what characters were saying in many parts, because context didn't lend hints. If Diaz is aiming this book towards a bilingual audience, then so be it. But how difficult would it have been to translate the Spanish in footnotes?
The book is already rife with footnotes anyway, which mainly serve to explain the history of the brutal dictatorship of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. Throw a gringo a bone. In describing how Belicia, Oscar's mother, had developed a brash attitude as a teenager while living in the Dominican Republic with her adoptive mother, La Inca , Diaz writes, "Those of you who have stood at the corner of nd and Broadway can guess what it was she spoke: the blunt, irreverent cant of the pueblo that gives all dominicanos cultos nightmares on their thread-count sheets and that La Inca had assumed perished along with Beli's first life in Outer Azua, but here it was so alive, it was like it had never left: Oye, pariguayo, y que paso con esa esposa tuya?
Gordo, no me digas que tu todavia tienes hambre. A lack of Spanish skills won't be the only thing that keeps you from enjoying this book. He says, "I know I've thrown a lot of fantasy and sci-fi in the mix but this is supposed to be a true account of the Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
Can't we believe that an Ybon can exist and that a brother like Oscar might be due a little luck after twenty-three years? If blue pill, continue. If red pill, return to the Matrix. Do yourself a favor and take the red pill now. Return to the Matrix and don't read this book. View all comments. Nov 04, Michael Finocchiaro rated it it was amazing Shelves: americanst-c , novels , fiction , pulitzer-winning-fiction , pulitzer-fiction. Brutal yet beautiful. I can see why he got a Pulitzer and wonder if his other books are as fun to read.
I think that Seven Killings was even more masterful, but Oscar delivers nearly as much gore and Caribbean corruption and historical facts as well. I especially enjoyed the footnotes. Writing any more about this book would certainly break my no spoilers rules so suffice it to say that th Exhilarating. For more about Trujillo, his regime, his assassination, and the chaos that ensued with a magnificent female protagonist Urania , don't miss Feast of the Goat by Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa - it is extraordinary!
View all 17 comments. Sep 18, Malbadeen rated it it was amazing. I want to know all about your family, your childhood, your grandparents, their childhood, etc, etc, I want to know where you lived, what food you ate, what games you played or didn't play.
I want to know why this is important to you or that is not. Oscar goes on the short list of book characters that will stay with me forever.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Reader’s Guide
Always trying to kiss them, always coming up behind them during a merengue, the first nigger to learn the perrito and the one who danced it every chance he got. During the parties—and there were many, many parties in those long-ago seventies days, before Washington Heights was Washington Heights, before the Bergenline became a straight shot of Spanish for almost a hundred blocks—some drunk relative inevitably pushed Oscar onto some little girl, and then everyone would howl as boy and girl approximated the hip-motism of the adults. The threesome lasted only a week. One day after school, Maritza cornered Oscar behind the swing set and laid down the law. He broke up with Olga the next day on the playground, Maritza at his side, and how Olga cried! Snots pouring out of her nose and everything!
Dreaming in Spanglish
Look Inside Reading Guide. Reading Guide. Sep 06, Minutes Buy. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
But of course an awful lot of serious young-to-middle-aged novelists Jonathan Lethem, Dave Eggers, Michael Chabon hang around there as well, lingering over the narratives that fed their childhood imaginations in order to infuse their ambitious, difficult stories with some of the allegorical pixie dust and epic grandiloquence the genres offer. What more fantasy than the Antilles? From the start, it has been a breeding ground for outsize destinies and monstrous passions. Holding all this together — just barely, but in the end effectively — is a voice that is profane, lyrical, learned and tireless, a riot of accents and idioms coexisting within a single personality. The voice belongs, for the most part, to Yunior, who only gradually slides from behind the curtain of apparently omniscient narration to reveal himself as a character. And while Oscar falls madly and chastely in love with a succession of not-quite-attainable women, Yunior is a chronic womanizer.