While the many genre references certainly add to the reading experience, they are not central to it. Diaz combines a fresh writing style, cultural/historical insights on the the Dominican Republic, and exquisitely drawn characters to create a novel that is bound to be considered a classic. But don't worry. This is not the case were "classic" equates with "boring." The plot is engaging, and the language is accessible (although familiarity with Spanish is a plus). It will appeal to a wide variety of literary tastes and is worth the read.
20 January 2009
Writing on Reading: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Junot Diaz's debut novel, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics award for Best Novel in 2007. Based on this, you might think Diaz is quite an impressive writing talent, and you'd be right. Don't be misled--Oscar Wao is not speculative fiction, but it pays tribute to science fiction and fantasy throughout. Oscar, the central character of the novel, is (for lack of a better phrase) a genre geek. This lets him make references to fantasy and sci-fi culture that only fellow geeks can truly appreciate.