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All booksLiterary fictionThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Literary fiction

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

by Junot Diaz

Quick take

Dude wore his nerdiness like a Jedi wore his light saber or a Lensman her lens. Couldn’t have passed for Normal if he’d wanted to.

Why I love it

Book of the Month

Poor Oscar Wao. He will never outgrow his nerdy phase, but it’s a distinct pleasure to trace his life and the life of his extended family up until its premature end. Oscar, a Dominican kid in New Jersey who loves sci-fi and fantasizing about falling in love, is the victim of a fukú (or curse) that has affected his family for generations. Oscar’s family’s story is narrated by Yunior, the type of ultra-masculine man who is Oscar’s diametric opposite. In his own unique voice, Yunior weaves together Oscar’s mother’s history as an orphan in the Dominican Republic, Oscar’s sister’s struggles in Patterson, and Oscar’s own experiences with bullies, awkwardness, and unrequited love.

Incorporating the most exciting aspects from a variety of literary genres, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a novel that plumbs psychological depths, revels in the magical mysteries of one’s ancestry, and always does so with plenty of laughs. This perfect mix makes Junot Díaz’s masterpiece one of the most important (and fun!) reads of the 21st century so far.

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Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister—dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fukú—a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere—and risk it all—in the name of love.

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Member thoughts

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All (184)
Love (86)
Like (68)
Dislike (30)
199 ratings
  • 43% Love
  • 34% Like
  • 15% Dislike
  • Silver Spring, MD

    The best read I've encountered recently. The cultural references, the engaging footnotes, and the dialogue were absolutely engaging and heartwarmingly funny! You will love everything about this book!

  • Cambridge, MA

    Beautifully written, terrific, well-developed narrator with a strong voice. The characters are interesting, human and develop over the course of the book. Loved all of!! (maybe minus the footnotes)

  • Olympia, WA

    Oscar was the worst, but the narrator's voice and the other characters were great. I absolutely loved the engaging and well-written footnotes and have been inspired to research Dominican history!

  • Porter Ranch, CA

    This was such a bold book. Unabashedly Dominican. Unabashedly nerdy (back before nerd culture became mainstream). I loved Junot Diaz's voice and I can't wait to read everything else he wrote.

  • Torrington, CT

    This book brings to light the feelings and emotions that introverts feel when all they want is to fit in. Being able to become who you and get what you want! Love love love!!

  • Port Angeles, WA

    Best book that I have read in a while. It challenged me both with vocabulary and with the cultural references. I spent a lot of time thinking about the book after reading it.

  • Eugene, OR

    A really poignant book - the blending of fantasy with history was such an engaging mode of storytelling, and the emotions evoked by the book were so palpable.

  • Paterson, NJ

    I had been wanting to read a book by Junot Diaz for a long time and I'm glad I finally did. It was such a good book - sad and funny all at the same time.

  • Washington, DC

    A beautiful and cursed story of the de Leon family -- I really enjoyed this book and how it provided the backstory for several characters in the book.

  • Doral, FL

    Give this book a chance and read it knowing you are going "see" a very time and culture. Use annotations link (

  • New Rochelle, NY

    This was a great read, but not an easy read. Makes you think about yourself, your family, and what has happened to get you to where you are now.

  • Lagrange , OH

    I love reading books with an insider's perspective of my East Coast Latino culture. I laughed and cried and reminisced, wonderful.

  • Richmond, VA

    Poignant and heartwarming/breaking tale of an immigrant trying to find himself in an often complex, cold world

  • Aurora, CO

    Just read it. It like nothing I have ever read. The history and the pop culture clash perfectly.

  • Mount Prospect, IL

    This is definitely a new classic and worthy of all the praise it's received.

  • Lakewood , CO

    Please read are missing out on an amazing book if you don't.

  • Pomona, CA

    A book I will always remember and carry with me. Beautiful.

  • Meridian , ID

    A funny, eye opener and realistic book

  • Elmwood Park, IL

    Poor Oscar, never catches a break!

  • Malden, MA

    Loved it!

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