9. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

by Junot Diaz

started 1/13 finished 1/24
I know the year has just started, but this is my favorite so far. It made several Best Books of the Year for 2007 and I completely understand why. It is a seemingly simple story: Oscar is a young man of Dominican descent growing up overweight in modern day New Jersey. He is a textbook geek, devouring Science Fiction and writing it as well. Like most teenaged boys he is obsessed with girls and his virginity, but because of his size and interests he is most often relegated to the “friend zone”.
What really makes this novel exceptional is Diaz’s writing. His language is infused with both hip-hop (love it!) and Spanish (had to break out the Spanish-English dictionary a few times). The backstories of Oscar’s mother and sister take us to the Dominican Republic quite a few times and is laden with footnotes from the viewpoint of the narrator that teach us of the islands turbulent political history. A novel with historical footnotes!!! I was in heaven.

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