Year 3, Book 36

36. The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
This book is the most recent Pulitzer Prize winning novel. Unfortunately I found it neither brief nor wondrous. The book revolves around a Dominican family that emigrated to New York. You would think based on the title that the book is all about Oscar Wao, but you would be wrong. His story comprises maybe half the book interspersed with chapters devoted soley to his sister, his mother, his grandmother, and some guy that is the supposed narrator of the book who came into Oscar’s life through a relationship with Oscar’s sister. Unfortunately most of these other tales did not really tie in at all with Oscar or each other so it seemed like half the book was a series of semi-related short stories rather than part of a cohesive novel. Additionally I never really understood the narrators connection or why he supposedly got so caught up in Oscar’s life. He kept telling us that he was, but really there was no evidence that he was and there seemed no reason that he should feel compelled to “write” Oscar’s story. The one good thing about the book is that it was interspersed with tons of footnotes explaining Dominican history and culture, so I learned a lot that I didn’t know before. But given the rest of the book I probably should have just read a book on the history of the Dominican Republic. I think it’s pretty bad when you find the footnotes better than the book itself. I was sadly disappointed in this book given the number of awards it’s won. I give it a 4 out of 10.

One thought on “Year 3, Book 36

  1. Ah! My thanks! “OSCAR” was rather high up on my list of titles to buy…but I’m far too old, too impatient, and too ill-tempered to waste time reading books that simply aren’t worth the effort. I appreciate your review…

    …and think I’ll skip “OSCAR” entirely, and take up “THE SOMNAMBULIST”…

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