Things have never been easy for Oscar. A ghetto nerd living with his Dominican family in New Jersey, he's sweet but disastrously overweight. He dreams of becoming the next J R R Tolkien and he keeps falling hopelessly in love. Poor Oscar may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fuku - the curse that has haunted his family for generations.
With dazzling energy and insight Diaz immerses us in the tumultuous lives of Oscar; his runaway sister Lola; their beautiful mother Belicia; and in the family's uproarious journey from the Dominican Republic to the US and back.
Rendered with uncommon warmth and humour, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a literary triumph that confirms Junot Diaz as one of the most exciting writers of our time.
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©2007 Junot Diaz; (P)2008 Recorded Books LLC
It's easy to see why this book is being hailed as the next modern classic, it's extremely well written with a very human and intriguing story. The different characters are all well developed and have their own distinct voices. The narrator does a brilliant job. Highly recommend, I only wish I spoke better Spanish, I'm going to be spending a lot of time on Google translator for my next listen!
Classics,contemporary fiction, Politics, Philosophy, Economics - a weekly eye on The New Yorker & The Guardian and dense word style/play.
Junot Diaz is well known and this novel was much anticipated through his short-story work on The New Yorker and on that basis, I dived into this full length novel with relish. It represents a fresh voice which stands apart, above and beyond lots of new millennium city-lit in the States and is an invigorating read, though not necessarily from start to finish.
There are definite high-points through the narrative - in particular long sections of The Three Heartbreaks of Belicia Cabral and Poor Abelard are really engaging and fascinating for someone who knew nothing of the brutal regime of Rafael Trujillo its history and impact on the Dominican Republic - and these sections alone are worth the money. Elsewhere, the ?modern? GhettoNerd at the End of the World , whilst well ornamented, does not seem to sparkle to the same extent that is suggested by the wonderful ?Alma? on which the earlier expressed anticipation was based. Junot Diaz has certainly found the voice of Silk City, but the short-comings of Oscar as a central character on which to hang the narrative translates to a little disappointment on my part - whilst I?m really not interested in Star Trek and Marvel the litter of detailed Dominica detritus sustains the work through the less than dazzling sections. Maybe more (or is that less) simpatico on the part of hombre Wao might have livened this one up to consistent heights - but that?s just small potato criticism of a highly original and entertaining new voice on the New York scene.
Like the review says there's warmth and humour aplenty in this book, but more overwhelmingly there is a lot of pain and tragedy. At points it is a very tough listen. You will learn a lot about the Dominican Republic and it's dark past under a vicious dictator, and probably goes a long way to explain why people leave beautiful countries for a far from easy life in '1st World' countries. Narration is brilliant, although the liberal use of spanish phrases could've done with a translation as I felt I was missing something poignant at times - who knows though, i don't speak Spanish!
Story is told through the eyes of a number of characters, and Diaz seems to have so much to say it never gets boring. A vibrant, colourful, truthful and painful story well worth the download.
This is a wonderful book, tribute to the Latin American imagination, culture and history. A fantastic story about families built upon diaspora and generational impacts of tirany. Full of references to contemporary topics, but also ageless one. If you are interested on insights into Latin American life and ways of thinking this a great book for you!
The seamless switches between English and Spanish really worked during the narration for me, whereas I think it may have been jarring during reading. There was a depth and feeling and genuine enjoyment of the story from both of the narrators.
I mean Lin's a great performer, I listened to this as opposed to reading a physical copy because Lin was reading it and I'm maybe slightly obsessed with him. Still the story was enjoyable if different from what I was expecting. It helps to have some knowledge of the Spanish language or nerd culture but I'd imagine it's still enjoyable without those tools.
I tried to read this book about three times and found the writing style really difficult to wrap my head around. The quality of writing is excellent, but the grammatical style is such that several times in a row I couldn't get past the first couple of pages. But Lin's reading is stellar. It brought the prose to life in a way that only the very best audiobooks can. His musical background is evident in the playful, lyrical reading style.
Completely gorgeous and a joy to listen to.
What a truly great find. A stab in the dark from '1001 books to read' because the review referenced Gabriel Garcia Marquez and I love him. This is a really modern novel read with passion, energy and sympathy for the subject.
I enjoyed this book, the interweaving of the history of the Dominican Republic alongside the history of Oscar's family was fascinating. The only issue for me was that I am not a Spanish speaker, and as the author frequently reverted to his native tongue. This felt very right within the context of the story, but because he provided no explanation of what he was saying,it felt as though I was missing quite a bit.
"Helps if you speak Spanish!"
The narrators were of a high standard, but there is a fair amount of spanish used throughout the book. I'm told the print version translates the spanish in footnotes and I certainly would have got more from the audiobook had those footnotes been incorporated. Nonetheless it was a good, though depressing, listen.
"No, no, no"
I have no idea how this story was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. To me it feels more aimed at young adults - certainly this reading makes it feel this way & the main narrator of the story feels better suited to a younger audience.
I couldn't buy in to the story at all. Some of the characters, yes, especially the female ones. But Oscar - the main character - felt completely inaccessible to me. I didn't see any development in him throughout the storyline & his "achievements" seemed to be more down to luck than personal growth. As a character he was very limited.
Little about Oscar's own life seemed "Wonderous" to me. His family history certainly had some interest in it, but his own life held little.
Oscar's friend "Junior" the narrator seemed a strange choice to tell the story of Oscar's family as it seemed unlikely he'd have had access to as much information as the story contained.
I persisted to the end with this one but it felt like wasted effort.
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