“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. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fuku – the curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.” – The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao(Front flap)
I had some problems warming up to this book. It is not a cozy read. The book starts out telling us about Oscar and his childhood. We learn of his obsessions from a young age with science fiction, video games, and girls. I didn’t really warm up to him, yet I wanted him to succeed in life. I did get quite annoyed with his character at times as with the attitude of some of the other male characters especially. I’m not an old prude, honest, but do Dominican men have sex on the brain or is that just my female interpretation?
As the book progresses we learn about Oscar’s mother Beli and his grand parents coloured history in the Dominican Republic. We learn of the brutality that is brought about on their family and the many deaths. Beli must flee to the United States for fear of her life.
Diaz captures the economic, political and psychological Dominican history and we learn quite a bit about it here. I think this novel was worth the read just for that, but I did like other parts of the story as well. Was it worthy of winning the Pulitzer? I’ll leave that up to you to decide for yourselves.
There are many Spanish words in the book with no definitions. Some can be figured out by the reader by the context, however, if you do decide to read it, I highly recommend that you have a Spanish-English dictionary nearby.
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