The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Title: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Author: Junot Diaz

Publisher: Riverhead, September 2007

Summary: Beware the fuku. This ridiculously good novel is part immigrant family saga, part ghetto epic and entirely unforgettable. The narrative traces the history of the de Leon family, from a doctor living under the brutal dictatorship of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic to the titular character – an obese, insular, brilliant aspiring sci-fi writer. Peppered with references to fantasy masterworks such as Dune and Lord of the Rings, and narrated in a vibrant, gritty street Spanglish, this Pulitzer Prize winner tells of the fuku – a devastating family curse akin to the evil eye – that has haunted Oscar’s family through the generations, causing misery at every turn.

Can the fuku be thwarted? Oscar’s quest is reminiscent of those made by his fantasy heroes – equal parts bravery and tragedy. This book is as hilarious as it is haunting, describing the horrors of living under Trujillo and the mortification of being Oscar. Junot Diaz is a true original, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

Who will like this book?: Readers who are willing to stretch their boundaries. People interested in stories of the Caribbean and the Dominican Republic. Fans of immigrant family dramas.

If you like this, try this: Drown, a collection of stories by Diaz. For more on the Dominican Republic under Trujillo, try In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

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