Junot Díaz' THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO
Book review by Dennis D. McDonald
I enjoyed the story, the characters, the history, and the movement back and forth in time. I also understood the SF and fantasy references.
I read the book at the suggestion of my daughter who served in the Peace Corps in the rural Dominican Republic. Having visited her there I had some sense of what urban and rural conditions are like in the DR ranging from lush tropics to crowded metropolis. That helped. I was also able to recognize and appreciate the underlying and overt racism that figures throughout the book.
Filming this book as a movie would be a challenge. Lost would be the frequent literary allusions, plus an English-only audience might be put off by the frequent Spanish. While I don’t speak Spanish, the Audible production I listened to was excellent. Interpreting meaning based on context was rarely a problem as Spanish is used frequently throughout the book.
My main impression: everyone has a story and a family history. We should take the time to listen and learn about the people we meet, especially when they come from somewhere else. Until we do that our judgments about them are incomplete.
Review copyright (c) 2013 by Dennis D. McDonald