Currently Reading: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Oscar is the only son in a Dominican family.  Unfortunately, he is not what a Dominican male should be.  Instead of being a suave, handsome, good dancer with girls crawling all over him, he is an overweight sci-fi nerd with a penchant for becoming obsessive over females.

What made Oscar this way?  According to the story and old family legend, it was the fuku, the name of the curse that can be put upon a person or a family.  In Oscar's case, his family's fuku goes back a few generations, which is slowly revealed.

The book reminded me a bit of 100 Years of Solitude in that it was the story of several generations of a family and how the actions of one affected all the others.  The difference in this case is that the story moves backwards rather than forwards.  First we learn about Oscar and his sister Lola.  Next we learn about his mother, Beli, and finally about her parents and what caused these series of familial and personal disasters.

I didn't enjoy the book while I was reading it, but more so after I was done with it.  The misogyny really bothered me, although in the novel, it was written off a cultural appreciation of women's beauty.  My favorite aspect of the book was how it was set against the backdrop of Trujillo's dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, something I unfortunately knew nothing about previous to this.  The way that he managed to control an entire country through systematic murder, rape, and surveillance is terrifying.  I appreciate when a novel can teach me something in a historical sense that I was unaware of.

Find Me Elsewhere


  1. I don't ever recommend this book unless I know the person is at least something of a comic book fan. I think loving the same things Oscar does makes him so much more sympathetic as a character. Without that I think I would have found him pathetic and much less relatable. Incidentally, I feel the same way about Michael Chabon's Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Have you read it?

  2. I think you're spot-on about Oscar. I'm not a comic book person, but I do like a lot of sci-fi and fantasy stuff, but I still found him kind of insufferable. Every time there was an example of the way he would speak to girls (ie. "You're so orchidaceous") I would just roll my eyes and think no wonder no one wants to date him! So yes, that was a big issue in me relating to him as a character, definitely.

    I haven't read the Michael Chabon, but I could give it a shot! Is it similar with the comic book stuff or something else?

  3. The comic book stuff. Though in that case it's less of a character issue and more of a plot point. If you've read anything else by him and liked it, you might like that one too. Though my experience has been that those who like comic books liked it and those who don't, well, don't.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts