The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a novel that was published in 2007 and won the Pulitzer Prize. The author of this work is Juno Diaz – an American writer of Dominican origin, so the work in English contains a large number of inserts in Spanish. The book can be called a magical family saga, as it is dedicated to three generations of the Dominican family, over which hangs the curse of “fuku”. In addition to describing the family and each member individually, the work describes the period of the reign of the cruel dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. Despite the fact that the book is not easy to read – because it is written in English and Spanish – it is worth reading because it reveals a lot of interesting topics, such as the life of Dominican families, a schoolboy who is fond of computer games and comics, and a brutal dictatorship.
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The genre of the book attracts from the very beginning – magical realism, but reading it, the reader can understand that this is not quite an appropriate description. On the one hand, it is a family story in three generations – the full-grown boy Oscar, his mother Bella, who does not know how to choose men, and his grandfather Abelard, who lived during the Trujillo dictatorship. Moreover, it is a history of the 20th-century Dominican Republic, including a description of the Trujillo era – a 30-year dictatorship with a cult of personality and violence. One way or another, every reader will be able to find something exciting for themselves and enjoy reading.
The book is called The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the main character Oscar is given little attention, although he is quite an interesting character, which the reader would be interested to know more about. Oscar is a fat boy, a nerd who endures abuse at school every day and looks forward to being released from it (Dias 2007). In addition, not all people who read this work may like a large number of episodes of a sexual nature and violence, and someone may be completely alienated. Another drawback of the book may be the heavy sediment that remains after reading the chapters about the lives of people under the yoke of a cruel and merciless ruler. Perhaps all these techniques were specifically used by the author in order to convey the atmosphere of the Dominican Republic of the 20th century.
In turn, this work may appeal to those who like long family stories with vivid descriptions of characters. The characters of the novel make many mistakes, but they continue to live and change, and the further they go, the more changes the reader sees. The author emphasizes this with the words: “You can’t regret the life you didn’t lead” (Dias 2007, 31). Looking at their lives, decisions, and mistakes, the reader will be able to think about their own lives, understand and perhaps rethink some things. In addition to the Kablar family members, there is another outstanding character – the ruthless dictator Trujillo. He is compared to toxic radiation, which can be easily dispersed (Dias 2007). Each character of the book is endowed with its own unique character, which makes reading even more interesting and exciting.
In conclusion, this book can be recommended, especially for people who love Latin American history and family sagas. Those who are not interested in either history or tales should also read this book, as it will definitely not leave anyone indifferent. Some parts of the book are quite tough, others, on the contrary, are romantic and touching. After all, the one who reads it will either sincerely love it, or sincerely hate it.
Dias, Junot. 2007. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. New York: Riverhead Books.