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"Life isn't divided into genres. It's a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Oscar's family suffers from a serious case of fuku, a traditional Dominican term for bad luck. Like the shit-out-of, you're absolutely screwed, may as well write your will kind of bad luck. This extraordinary novel jumps from the Dominican Republic to New Jersey, gliding effortlessly across time, in a raw and honest portrayal of one family's fight against fate.

To be honest, I wasn't sure what to make of this book after the first page. Then, the language sucked me in. Diaz has managed to write with literary prowess while instilling an earthy conversational appeal. His Lord of the Rings and Encyclopedia Brown references alone had me giddy with joy. His frequent use of Spanish, nerdology and modern-day lingo makes for a heady mix of wordskill that I couldn't get enough of.

And what a story! I felt for poor, fat Oscar and his lovesick earnestness, sympathized with Lola's plight, marveled at Beli's extraordinary childhood. Diaz tied together the story's elements in a truly unique way, and ended the tale intelligently; that is, to say, realistically.

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