When Diaz came out with "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" I ran out and bought it. In hard cover. For those of you who still buy paper books, you know how much those cost.
Sure enough, the book sat on the shelf for years and I only now had the time to read it (thank you, morning commute!).
"The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" is less about its protagonist Oscar, and more about the history of the Dominican Republic and the culture of its people. Diaz tells that story through the lives of Oscar, his mother Beli, his sister Lola and Lola's sometimes boyfriend Yunior.
Diaz writes as if he's having a conversation with you. He's brutally honest and raw. There were points where I had to put the book down and take a break it was so heavy.
As someone who speaks Spanish, I loved the infusion of expressions in Diaz's native tongue within the English. For example:
"Oscar's sister Lola, was a lot more practical. Now that her crazy years were over - what Dominican girl doesn't have those? - she'd turned into one of those tough Jersey dominicanas, a long-distance runner who drove her own car, had her own checkbook, called men bitches, and would eat a fat cat in front of you without a speck of verguenza."
In addition to appreciating the tone, style and sincerity of Diaz's writing, I also enjoyed his use of footnotes. I haven't seen that often in works of fiction. The footnotes in this book not only contain historical information, but they include tidbits that demonstrate Diaz's personal beliefs about historical events and figures. It was a cool style choice.
I highly recommend "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao." This story is one so gritty you'll be thinking about it long after you finish the book.