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 The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

by Junot Díaz

"Díaz pens a first novel that bursts alive in an ironic, confiding, exuberant voice. Its wider focus is an indictment of the terrible Trujillo regime and its aftermath, but the approach is oblique, traced backwards via the children (Oscar and Lola) of a larger-than-life but ruined Dominican matriarch, Beli. In earthy, streetwise, Spanish-interlaced prose, Díaz links overweight, nerdy fantasist Oscar, his combative, majestic sister and their once Amazonian mother to the island of their ancestry.... By placing sad, lovelorn, virginal Oscar at the book's heart, Díaz softens the horrors visited on his antecedents, which began when Trujillo cast his predatory eye on wealthy Abelard Cabral's beautiful daughter. Was the heap of catastrophes that ensued fukú (accursed fate), Díaz asks repeatedly, and can there be counterbalancing zafa (blessing)?" -- Kirkus