The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

This book is amazing. Traveling back and forth between urban New Jersey and the Dominican Republic, and drawing equally on imagery from and references to science fiction and fantasy novels, comic books, and Dominican history and folklore, Oscar Wao is hilarious and gut wrenching at the same time. Example: describing the drawn-out beating of a character by the Dominican police as “like one of those nightmare eight-a.m. MLA panels: endless.” And Díaz’s footnotes explaining various aspects of Dominican history are fantastic — informative, hilarious, and and bitingly dismissive of Americans who just don’t get it all at once. It’s the sort of book where you can’t help but admire its construction, the careful layout, the fantastic one-liners, and then completely forget about all of it because you’re so drawn into the characters. As it hurtles toward the ending that seems inevitable, and that you know is the right ending for this book no matter how much you wish it wouldn’t happen, there’s only one thing to do: decide to read it again, so that you can admire its construction, dialog, and characters all over again.


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