Probably my one and only regret with this novel is that I should have read it after Mario Vargas Llosa’s Feast of the Goat. The thing is that I intended on reading it straight after but I got distracted with other books and put it off till now.
I have read Junot Diaz’s first short story collection ‘Drown’ and I didn’t mind it. As I have mentioned before that i’m not a fan of short stories as the quality is never consistent, there always a pick a choose element and I felt the same way with ‘Drown.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is Diaz first novel and is a huge leap when compared to Drown. It seems that within the novel format Diaz can add more flourish and humorous sections, something which he omits in his short stories.
Oscar is an overweight sci-fi nerd who is quite terrible when i comes to girls. To top it all of he is a second generation Dominican Republic immigrant so in theory he should be the next Porfirio Rubirosa. This bad luck all stems from a family curse which has its roots with Oscar’s grandfather, who allegedly bad mouths Trujillo. Finally Oscar does meet the woman of his dreams but at a huge cost.
Brief Wondrous can be seen as a history of the Dominican Republic (most of this is told through absolutely brilliant footnotes) and each character is a mouthpiece and representation of the different stages of the Trujillo reign. Here Diaz’s sense of satire and anger comes out think and strong. Clearly he knows that his birthplace had a tough history and he brings out savagely. There is also the romance plot but it takes a backseat role until Oscar main love is a commentary on the post Trujillio Dominican Republic.
The use of Spanish and slangy english is fantastic and it gives the novel a pulsating energy. It’s also fresh, funny and poetic. There were many times where I couldn’t stop smiling at the use of English. It’s not a stumbling factor and it makes the book readable.
Coincidentally my next book is about Cuba so I’m very curious to see if there will be any parallels!