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

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 ...


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 San...

Member thoughts

49% Love
35% Like
13% Dislike
  • Cynthia H.

    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!"

  • Maggie P.

    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."

  • Emily B.

    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."

  • Joanna S.

    Pueblo, CO

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

  • Heather C.

    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."

  • Kaitlyn B.

    Malden, MA

    "Loved it!"

  • Katie K.

    Vernon Hills, IL

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

  • Elina B.

    Thornton , CO

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

  • Evelyn T.

    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)"

  • Maureen S.

    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."

  • Amparo C.

    Pomona, CA

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