The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

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It's Dominican and American, not about immigration but diaspora, in which one family's dramas are entwined with a nation's, not about history as information but as dark-force destroyer. Really, it's a love novel. His dazzling wordplay is impressive. But by the end, it is his tenderness and loyalty and melancholy that breaks the heart.


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That is wondrous in itself. Often in hilarity. Mostly in heartbreak. It's not a bad gambit, to always leave your audience wanting more. So brief and wondrous, this life of Oscar. It is a joy to read, and every bit as exhilarating to reread. And some older writers—we know who we are—might want to think about stepping up their game.

Confessions of a self-professed Casanova.

Oscar Wao shows a novelist engaged with the culture, high and low, and its polyglot language. Membership Benefits. Gift cards can be used online or in-store. Popular Fiction. Circe Paperback. By Madeline Miller.

Published: Back Bay Books - January 28th, By Ann Patchett. By Ta-Nehisi Coates. But he wasn't yet a literary rockstar. That's long enough to make any editor or fan squirm. As Lev Grossman said in Time :. You could call The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao the saga of an immigrant family, but that really wouldn't be fair. It's an immigrant-family saga for people who don't read immigrant-family sagas.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz | Penguin Random House Canada

That's because the novel is about much more than Oscar's family relocation to New Jersey. The book explores themes of racial and national identity, while questioning commonly held assumptions about masculinity. It also deals quite successfully with the nasty legacy Rafael Trujillo left behind in the Dominican Republic.


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And it does all of this while interweaving the traditional genres of nerddom—like sci-fi novels, fantasy comic books, and Japanese anime. Few other novels can mash together multiple cultures, histories, identities, and fantasies as well as Wao. Herman Melville's Moby Dick is the only book we think comes anywhere close. But before we set you loose on the novel, we'd like to suggest a reading strategy. So you may feel overwhelmed by the footnotes, the multiple narrators, or the shifts between English and Spanish. For example, he wonders, Where is home?

And how do we get back there? So keep the author's earnest truth-seeking, and these central questions, in the forefront of your mind as you toggle between his different voices and languages. If you're feeling confused and uncomfortable, just breathe. And lean into those feelings. In our complicated and diverse 21st century world, these feelings are the new home.

Imagine that you're watching Season Two of your favorite TV show. The show is on every Sunday night at eight o'clock. Usually, you relax, eat some popcorn, and let your brain veg out. But somehow, watching this show—let's call it The Jesse and Veronica Show— has become very stressful for you. And you know exactly when this anxiety first started. Stick with us now. In Season One, you felt that you could root for both of the main characters. Jesse, who is from New Jersey, and who has a family of just his parents and two siblings, reminds you of your own family in New Jersey.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

You identify with Jesse. This contribution has not yet been formally edited by Britannica. Learn more. Start Your Free Trial Today. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Science fiction , a form of fiction that deals principally with the impact of actual or imagined science upon society or individuals. History at your fingertips. Sign up here to see what happened On This Day , every day in your inbox!