The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

by Junot Díaz, Junot az
3.9 224

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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao 12-copy solid floor display 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 224 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading so many positive reviews and hearing about the numerous awards this book won, I was extremely anxious to get my hands on a copy. Once I did, however, I was disappointed. I was expecting Diaz's style to be much more subtle and sophisticated, based on what I'd read in the reviews, and was rather underwhelmed by his style of prose. The characters had the potential to be very interesting, but I think the author tried to delve too deeply into too many of them, thus leaving the reader with a shallow impression of all. Oscar, especially, disappointed me. While he may not be a typical DR boy, he is the standard nerdy American boy stereotype. I almost felt as if I was reading a random YA paperback with subpar writing and a so-so plot. I enjoyed the supernatural elements of the book, but they were so few and far between, and examined so briefly, that Diaz might as well just have left them out. The Spanish sentences and the footnotes didn't bother me. If I don't understand something, I can always find an internet translation site, and while the footnotes did drag a bit at times, my understanding of the book would have been severely prohibited without them. Overall, not a bad book by any means, but certainly not one of my favorites. Perhaps if my expectations hadn't been so high to start with I would have enjoyed it more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was blown away by the plot of the story. This is truely an imaginative tale.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The ending was terrible. Whatever the author had to say about life I didn't agree with.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I usually rate a book by it´s ending (how many times do we get built up just to be disapointed by the ending) and this one has a great one. Don't expect a mind-blowing twist, as things go just as the title suggests, but as you learn about and get to know the characters, you can't help but feel genuinely happy fo Oscar and how it all ends. I do, however, have a bittersweet taste in my mouth from it, given that it portrays dominican men as insensitive, fidelity incapable jerks, being Oscar Himself the only exception. Again, he is a 'nerd', and the author suggets that that is weird amongst dominican men, thus reinforcing the stereotype. I understand why some people felt frustrated over the book having all this parts in spanish, but understanding the book will be different for each reader. This book must be read with and open mind, or not read at all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I did not like how most of the book was a footnote. If I wanted a history lesson on the D.R. I would of read a history book. All I wanted was a good story to read. I didn't like how there were no quotation marks either. The story was sad and dark.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book and returned it after the first couple of chapters. I have no spanish, which made some of it difficult, but overall I found it boring, hard to engage with.
BlueEyeBooks 3 months ago
This is one of those books that while I didn't necessarily like the story itself, I can appreciate how the author wrote and structured it. Personally, I am very annoyed by footnotes because they interrupt the flow of the story and lead me off on a tangent and then I have to find my way back and remember what was going on before this whole journey began. This book is FULL of footnotes at the beginning and that just spoiled my attitude for the whole thing. Once I passed the halfway mark, things were beginning to look up because the use of footnotes went down and the story started to bring itself together. The characters themselves are very interesting and it'll probably help you to know that it's not narrated by the author or Oscar; most of the time, it's narrated by another character, Yunior (think Great Gatsby). I didn't realize that until it was explicitly said around 1/3rd of the way through and that would have helped me understand what was happening so much better. The last thing I want to mention is the history. Some of this story takes place in the Dominican Republic and the author includes some history as well as some Spanglish. I don't really know a whole lot about the DR except for the fact that they're on the same island as Haiti and they speak Spanish there (and I got to practice my Spanish by reading this book so that was cool!). I found the whole history timeline to be really cool. It's definitely good if you have a basic background knowledge of the DR but Diaz fills you in on the more specific stuff. The Final Verdict: If you don't like footnotes, it's probably best to skip this (or just skip reading the footnotes themselves). Beyond that, the plot and themes are wonderfully structured. 3.5 stars
Anonymous 4 months ago
The book deserves a second read in print, so that I can get the most out of the footnotes
Me_OVM More than 1 year ago
The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, is a novel exploring the life and times of an overweight Dominican nerd. Our hapless protagonist, is cursed with virginity and low-self esteem; with the majority of the novel itself being narrated by Yunior, a stereotypical, womanizing Dominican, who serves as the authors mouthpiece into both Oscar's story, and into the stories of the people who came before him. Within the first 7 pages, Diaz sets up the general voice of the entire novel, from the sardonic darkness of the Dominican struggle, to the dry and hilarious footnotes which become reoccurring characters through out the book. Diaz introduces us to our two most important characters, Yunior, who serves as the (profane) voice of the novel, and Oscar, summarized as "a hardcore sci-fi and fantasy man" and an unfortunate recipient of the fuku. The fuku and its ying-yang counterpart: zafa, give our much needed magical realism injection into the novel, and become important in rationalizing the horrors of the Dominican Experience, an experience filled with terror and hope, subjugation and (attempted) freedom. The rest of the novel is a weaving of Oscar's story, his backstory, his unfortunate misadventures, his various attempts at life and death, and finally his climax and conclusion. Located within the moments of Oscar's sad, lonely life, we see glimpses of the experiences of the people around him, from his sister's attempts to break off from their controlling, abusive mother (uniquely told in her 1st person POV), his own mother's tragic youth in the Trujillato, Dominican Republic, his grandfather's downfall at the hands of similar forces, and a chapter from the POV of Yunior himself, as Oscar's roommate and (alleged) friend. Throughout the story, Diaz shows a mastery in controlling the tone and mood of his writing, being able to shift from hazy, dreamlike and almost goofy, to bone-crushingly brutal moments of pain and tragedy. His ability as a writer is shown best in Beli's (Oscar's mother) chapter, as her coming of age story is marred by the horrors of the regime she lives in; as her story shifts from a doomed love story, to one of victim, so brutalized by the nation she lives in, she flees to protect herself, a story all too common for the Dominican people. Diaz' style of writing is unique, as the book is written from the literary perspective of a New Jerseyan, Dominican swinger/playboy/no-good-cheater. This results in a wonderful blend of profanity, Spanish profanity, slang, innuendo and general urban speak; hilarious and appropriate given the narrative, providing a feeling of life to an otherwise grim and hopeless book. In many ways, the flowery language and dark comedy provide zafa (good luck) in a story filled with anything but. The epitome of Diaz' comedy is located within the sporadically placed footnotes, which provide cheeky information concerning items of importance within the novel, ranging from bitter, witty criticisms of Raphael Trujillo, to quotes from Lord of the Rings. These footnotes are the comedic context given to us by an author who is fully prepared to write out a full Dominican Shakespearean tragedy. Overall, the Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, is an excellent book , commanding of the readers attention, that balances out a tragic plot, with excellent black comedy. With an eye-grabbing cast of characters and with fantastic writing to do them justice, this novel fully deserves the five stars it has received.
Annika12 More than 1 year ago
The novel “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” written by Junot Diaz, explores the violent history of the Dominican Republic and takes readers on a journey, discovering the stereotypes and violence existing in each character’s life. The title combines both Spanish and English influences. Woa, which is mispronunciation of the name Wilde, is a modification made from first language Spanish speakers to insult Oscar on his resemblance to “Oscar Wilde, a famous Irish writer.” (shmoop) Born in the Dominican Republic, Junot Diaz moved to a small community of Dominicans in the United States when he was 7 years old. He grew up with many of the experiences that are described in his character’s lives and incorporated the “Spanglish” language that he was raised speaking in this book. Junot was born a few years after the assassination of the ruthless dictator, Rafael Trujillo, who played an important role in the life of Oscar’s mother. “Running the country like it was a marine boot camp,” Trujillo, mentioned throughout the book as El Jefe, was a greatly feared, powerful dictator in which three generations of Oscar’s family’s lives revolved around.(3) A series of short stories voiced the lives of members of Oscar’s family though out the book so that the bigger picture was clear. What makes Oscar? Taking place in the ghettoes of New Jersey, the author started the wondrous life of Oscar. Living in a poor neighborhood populated by Dominicans, Oscar began his life as a pudgy, round boy, who was a ladies man. However, as he began to grow, his confidence suffered. Oscar was overwhelmed by his disappointing ability to defy stereotypes with his nerdiness, race, and social class. Not only did his outward appearance make it difficult to create friendships and relationships, but he spent his free time cooped up in his room with his unhealthy obsession with sci-fi, marvel comics, Japanimation, and a love of writing. “Bashful, precocious, and overweight,” Oscar’s only wish was to have a woman to love and to hold. (theguardian) The author uses diction to bring emotion into his book, making the reader feel the pain, fear, and happiness of each character. Switching the point of view of Oscar’s life connects the title to the audience, discovering the meaning of the title “brief.” Listening to the lives of those around Oscar connects violence to everyday life. With threats and fear inflicted in each character, the author does a great job of making each story unique and full of detail. He uses idioms and allusions to bring more life to his story. An allusion takes place in the last piece of writing Oscar ever wrote, “The beauty! The beauty!”(335) It is a connection to another famous piece of writing that expresses the horrors of life while after experiencing a woman for the first time, Oscar writes of the beauty. Although the whole book was about the suffering and hardships of the character’s lives, Oscar was able to sum it all up in a positive way. Even though life is difficult, the small intimacies make it worthwhile. However, with a complex structure and many phrases written in Spanglish, the book sometimes was difficult to follow. Some stories kept going long after the subject was explained. It was occasionally a puzzle to guess which character had the spotlight. The book included many phrases and words in Spanish and contained countless footnotes. Readers may also be put off by the numerous cussing and bad language contained in the book which sometimes made
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a fictional novel written by Junot Diaz. Diaz is a Dominican American author who is also a creative writing professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Although a majority of the book is set in New Jersey, the novel also explores the experience in the Dominican Republic (often referred to as the DR) under the rule of dictator Rafael Trujillo (also referred to as El Jefe). The novel is told from the multiple perspectives of Oscar, an overweight boy who is very interested in writing and falling in love, Lola, Oscar’s rebellious older sister, Beli, Oscar and Lola’s mother and Yunior, the narrator of the novel who ends up becoming a major part of both Oscar and Lola’s lives. Trujillo has quite a bit of power over the DR. He can do pretty much whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Some people came to the conclusion that he has “supernatural powers” (Diaz 3). It was believed that if you did something bad to Trujillo, he could wipe you out. That’s why when Abelard, a distant relative of Oscar, refused to allow Trujillo to see his daughter, it seemed like everyone Abelard was close to began to die. It is since then that Oscar’s family has been cursed by the fukú. There was also a counterspell known as the single word of zafa. These ideas throughout the novel are examples of magical realism and give hints at Dominican Culture. Oscar’s family believe that it is due to the fukú that he is an overweight nerd who lacks masculinity. All other Dominican families will also blame their bad luck on the fukú. The novel is written in a mix of Spanish and English. Diaz stated in an interview that he provided the Spanish without a translation in order to give the reader more of an immigrant experience but it does make the language complicated to understand at some parts. There are also a variety of science fiction movie and book references made in the novel that only a small amount of readers will understand enough to take something away from. Diaz uses very thoughtful diction in the novel throughout all chapters of the novel. Diaz skillfully uses a different kind of diction specific to each character. For example Oscar uses a more sophisticated vocabulary than Yunior who has been described as a bilingual b-boy (The New York Times). Characters like the gangster will also talk in a more aggressive tone with a large amount of curse words and violent references. Diaz’s ability to recognize these different perspectives proves his first hand experience in the DR. With its combined focus on the fukú and Oscar’s desperate attempts to find a girlfriend, there is never a dull moment in this book. Diaz finds a way to incorporate humor, sarcasm and suspense all into one moment. Above all else, this is an enjoyable book that is well worth the read. -Georgia McDonald
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Junot writes a fine evocative story in which I cried and I laughed. Not a book to miss.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bites her lip.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Needed to move a bit faster in the beginning
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the book and the story was really neat. The history is so amazing and so much we do not know! One minor comment is that I found myself distracted with the footnotes at times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Had some difficulty with some of the slang, but it was a god read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hail Mary...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago