The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Updated: Feb 14
Summary: Oscar is a large, Dominican nerd whose family is cursed by the fuku. The history of Oscar's family unfolds to tell the story of how they became cursed.
Review: This was one of those books where I really wasn't sure how I felt about it; I definitely didn't love it, but also didn't hate it.
The stories and characters were interesting and outside of my frame of reference, which I liked. I learned a lot about fuku and Dominican history, as well as numerous new ways to say slut in Spanish.
What bothered me about this book was the sexism. Oscar's whole value and character was based around the fact he couldn't get laid. The whole premise was that poor Oscar loved women, but couldn't actually get anyone to go out with him, so of course he was depressed and attempted suicide! Even the narrator half brags about numerous affairs as though it should just be accepted because *shrug* that's just Dominican men for you; they can't help it. Perhaps that really just is the culture, but it didn't vibe with me and reading a whole book about it was not my preference.
Some of the other characters and stories were great, including La Inca and Lola. Learning about the history was also very interesting because I didn't know much about the dictator Trujillo.
Diaz's writing style is unprecedented. His numerous footnotes are reminiscent of a textbook, and are quite helpful, but distracting. The dialogue is also a bit hard to follow without quotation marks (which are used in grammar for a reason). Last, it is full of Spanish terms, which one can follow mostly with high school fluency, but there are a lot of Dominican-specific terms used that don't exactly translate.
Overall, I can understand why it won the Pulitzer, however, it was not for me.