Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Thoughts: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

I have mixed feelings about this piece of writing ... or haven't I?

Yunior tells us a story. Not particularly his story but the story of Oscar, who is a ghetto-nerd with Dominican roots, living in Paterson, N.J.. Oscar is a wanna-be sci-fi writer, likes role play games and easily falls in love with girls he can't have. He also is obese and lonely. Soon I realized that this is not solely Oscar's story but the story of Lola, his rebellious sister and Yunior's on and off girlfriend, and his mother Beli, a long lost Dominican beauty, who works two jobs and fights cancer. In comparison the parts about Oscar are thin, the Yunior parts are annoying and the Lola and Beli parts are lively and strong.

I never got rid of the feeling that the author used different styles to blow the novel to become something big and spectacular, which in fact it really isn't.

The biggest problem might be the narrator, Yunior, whom I disliked very much for his macho demeanor and the frequent use of the word fuck. As he is barely holding the story together, I would have liked every character to speak for himself.

Magical realism is introduced in this novel as the superstition every Dominican family knows as fuku, a curse of which each family has to endure one of this or that kind. Miracles are happening twice in form of a Mongoose.

Why the author uses language in such a sloppy way, I don't know. Is it good writing to not use any quotation marks? Or to build sentences which are incomplete? Or to use a mix of Spanish and English words to make up a single sentence?

I haven't yet made up my mind how to rate this book. Let's say I haven't disliked it so much as to not finish it nor have I liked it enough to recommend it to anybody I like.


  1. I remember being so disappointed in this novel. For a Pulitzer Prize winning book, it was depressing as Hell, with an excessive amount of 'f bombs'. Surprising it won, isn't it? I think the tale of youth angst and immigration could have been told better.

  2. This looks interesting...not sure if I'd enjoy it, but Pulitzer Prize winning books seem to be like that with me...