Saturday, October 10, 2009

Book Review: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Phenomenal. Junot Diaz is an amazing writer.

I picked this up on a whim at the library after seeing it in the zeitgeist for the last year or so. It's a dazzling, crackling book, the story of a fat Dominican sci-fi geek in Brooklyn, of his older, hottie sister, and of their mother and her horrifying backstory in the Dominican Republic (the DR), which was ruled from 1930-1961 by a psychopathic tyrant, a totalitarian Sauron (Diaz's term) so brutal he made Saddam Hussein seem like a lightweight.

Diaz's cast of characters includes many real-life international playboy evildoers dropped into footnotes like devils from some parallel Gatsby, and he mixes hyper-nerd pop culture and Spanglish with authority and a supremely deft touch. For such a pain-filled book, Diaz never loses sight of either the humanity of his protagonists or the absurdly black humor of their world. Best of all, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a ripping yarn from beginning to end.

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