THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO – Junot Diaz


2016-02-14 12.06.31

Book Review 

I finally caught up with this 2008 novel which was greatly acclaimed at the time.  It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction – deservedly so. It’s original. There’s a nerdy anti-hero (Oscar); feisty Dominican female relatives; the history of the Dominican Republic during the years of the dreadful Trujillo dictatorship and post-dictatorship into the 90s.  We get a picture of expat Dominican Republic (DR) people fighting to make a new life in the USA. I enjoyed the book despite seriously grim DR historical content, which was in lengthy footnotes; normally long footnotes annoy the socks off me, but the slightly  droll tone of the account made them palatable.

I knew absolutely nothing about the DR and  had to consult my atlas to locate the country.  I  discovered DR was in the Caribbean. The Island of New Hispaniola, was divided into two – Haiti and the DR.  Haiti having an even darker, more violent, grimmer history than the DR if that can even be possible.

Reading the book certainly puts the Republic of South Africa’s dismal history  into perspective.  Sometimes we tend to forget we’re not the only country with a difficult and dangerous past. Man! those South American dictators were something else – torture was their middle name.  Urrggghhh!!

The black DR women were ferocious survivors – loud, harsh, sexy. Their child-rearing methods would not go down well in today’s p.c. climate. Despite this, their kids survived, although the book title might give prospective readers a clue.  A recommended read,it has warmth and humour,  but not for the faint hearted.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO – Junot Diaz

  1. It does sound like a very challenging read and I would love to try it – but definitely not for the faint-hearted indeed, judging by your comments…

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  2. Footnotes annoy me! If there aren’t too many, it isn’t as bothersome. Reminds me of reading when I was in college!

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  3. I’ve read the book and I thought your second paragraph about South Africa’s history would be really interesting to hear more about along side this book or the history of the Dominican Rep. What did you think of Diaz’s idea of FUKÚ and how could that be applied to South Africa?

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