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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
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About the Author

Junot Diaz was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Drown; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist; and a debut picture book, Islandborn. He is the recipient of a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award. A graduate of Rutgers College, Diaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Reviews

D!az's remarkable debut novel tells the story of a lonely outsider with zest rather than pathos. Oscar grows up in a Dominican neighborhood in Paterson, NJ, as an overweight, homely lover of sf and fantasy. Reading such books and trying to emulate them in his own writing provide Oscar's only pleasure. What he really wants is love, but his romantic overtures are constantly rejected. The author balances Oscar's story with glances at the history of the Dominican Republic, focusing on the Rafael Trujillo dictatorship and its effect on Oscar's family. D!az masterfully shifts between Oscar and his sister, mother, and grandfather to give this intimate character study an epic scale, showing that an individual life is the product of family history. Jonathan Davis's sensitive reading captures the romantic quest of the hero and the tragedy of life under Trujillo, and Staci Snell ably reads the alternating chapters dealing with Oscar's sister and mother. Also included is Drown, a collection of stories by D!az. Highly recommended for all collections. [This book is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.-Ed.]-Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

What a bargain to have D!az's short story collection, Drown, included (on the last five CDs) with the talented, emerging Dominican-American writer's first novel. Davis reads both superbly. He captures not only the fat, virginal, impractical Oscar, but he also gives a sexy vigor to Yunior, who serves as narrator and Oscar's polar opposite. Davis also gives voice to Oscar's mother, Beli, whose fuk# curse infects the entire family, except for Oscar's sister, Lola, performed in a flat voice by Snell, whose performance overlooks Lola's energy and resolve. Both Snell and Davis move easily from English to Spanish/Spanglish and back again, as easily as the characters emigrate from the Dominican Republic to Paterson, N.J., only to be drawn back inexorably to their native island. Listeners unfamiliar with Spanish may have difficulty following some of the dialogue. However, it's better to lose a few sentences than to miss Davis's riveting performance, perfect pace and rich voice, which are perfectly suited to D!az's brilliant work. Simultaneous release with the Riverhead hardcover (Reviews, June 18). (Sept.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

An extraordinarily vibrant book that's fueled by adrenaline-powered prose. . . A book that decisively establishes [Diaz] as one of contemporary fiction's most distinctive and irresistible new voices. --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Diaz finds a miraculous balance. He cuts his barn-burning comic-book plots (escape, ruin, redemption) with honest, messy realism, and his narrator speaks in a dazzling hash of Spanish, English, slang, literary flourishes, and pure virginal dorkiness. --New York Magazine Genius. . . a story of the American experience that is giddily glorious and hauntingly horrific. And what a voice Yunior has. His narration is a triumph of style and wit, moving along Oscar de Leon's story with cracking, down-low humor, and at times expertly stunning us with heart-stabbing sentences. That Diaz's novel is also full of ideas, that [the narrator's] brilliant talking rivals the monologues of Roth's Zuckerman--in short, that what he has produced is a kick-ass (and truly, that is just the word for it) work of modern fiction--all make The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao something exceedingly rare: a book in which a new America can recognize itself, but so can everyone else. --San Francisco Chronicle Astoundingly great. . . Diaz has written. . . a mixture of straight-up English, Dominican Spanish, and hieratic nerdspeak crowded with references to Tolkien, DC Comics, role-playing games, and classic science fiction. . . In lesser hands Oscar Wao would merely have been the saddest book of the year. With Diaz on the mike, it's also the funniest. --Time Superb, deliciously casual and vibrant, shot through with wit and insight. The great achievement of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is Diaz's ability to balance an intimate multigenerational story of familial tragedy. . . The past and present remain equally in focus, equally immediate, and Diaz's acrobatic prose toggles artfully between realities, keeping us enthralled with all. --The Boston Globe Panoramic and yet achingly personal. It's impossible to categorize, which is a good thing. There's the epic novel, the domestic novel, the social novel, the historical novel, and the 'language' novel. People talk about the Great American Novel and the immigrant novel. Pretty reductive. Diaz's novel is a hell of a book. It doesn't care about categories. It's densely populated; it's obsessed with language. It's Dominican and American, not about immigration but diaspora, in which one family's dramas are entwined with a nation's, not about history as information but as dark-force destroyer. Really, it's a love novel. . . His dazzling wordplay is impressive. But by the end, it is his tenderness and loyalty and melancholy that breaks the heart. That is wondrous in itself. --Los Angeles Times Diaz's writing is unruly, manic, seductive. . . In Diaz's landscape we are all the same, victims of a history and a present that doesn't just bleed together but stew. Often in hilarity. Mostly in heartbreak. --Esquire The Dominican Republic [Diaz] portrays in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a wild, beautiful, dangerous, and contradictory place, both hopelessly impoverished and impossibly rich. Not so different, perhaps, from anyone else's ancestral homeland, but Diaz's weirdly wonderful novel illustrates the island's uniquely powerful hold on Dominicans wherever they may wander. Diaz made us wait eleven years for this first novel and boom!--it's over just like that. It's not a bad gambit, to always leave your audience wanting more. So brief and wondrous, this life of Oscar. Wow. --The Washington Post Book World Terrific. . . High-energy. . . It is a joy to read, and every bit as exhilarating to reread. --Entertainment Weekly Now that Diaz's second book, a novel called The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, has finally arrived, younger writers will find that the bar. And some older writers--we know who we are--might want to think about stepping up their game. Oscar Wao shows a novelist engaged with the culture, high and low, and its polyglot language. If Donald Barthelme had lived to read Diaz, he surely would have been delighted to discover an intellectual and linguistic omnivore who could have taught even him a move or two. --Newsweek

Few books require a 'highly flammable' warning, but The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz's long-awaited first novel, will burn its way into your heart and sizzle your senses. Diaz's novel is drenched in the heated rhythms of the real world as much as it is laced with magical realism and classic fantasy stories. --USA Today Dark and exuberant. . . this fierce, funny, tragic book is just what a reader would have hoped for in a novel by Junot Diaz. --Publishers Weekly

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