Photo of the Dominican Republic by Michelle Brea used under a Creative Commons license.
Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead, 2007).
Oscar Cabral is an obese, Dominican-American “ghetto nerd,” an unpublished author of fantasy fiction with no social life. Like his grandfather, his mother and his sister, he suffers from fukú, the “Curse and Doom of the New World.” When Oscar walks the campus of Rutgers University, hundreds of years of Dominican history and culture trail behind him — not least the brutal reign of the dictator, President Trujillo. Díaz’s first novel is bitter, sad, funny, and pitch-perfect, a small epic of three generations, a nation, and a diaspora.
Here is an excerpt. Díaz published part of the book as a story in The New Yorker.
Reviews aplenty: A.O. Scott (The New York Times Book Review); Michiko Kakutani (The New York Times); John Isaac Lingen (The Quarterly Conversation); Roland Kelts (Salon); Boris Kachka (New York); James Hannaham (The Village Voice); Cindy Casares (Guanabee); Bridget Egan (Flak); Susan Straight (LA Times); Neel Mukherjee (Times (UK)); David Abrams (January); Jabari Asim (Washington Post). Other reviews are collected here. Tim has some good links too, including some more interviews. Time picked it as the #1 fiction book of 2007. Blogger reaction from Guru, AP, Dr. K, Anne-Marie, Terry Weyna, fsowalla, Ayse Papatya Bucak, Gregg, Jacob Russell, and J. Robert Lennon. Meghan O’Rourke interviews Díaz at Slate. Laila Lalami has two accounts of a reading Díaz gave in 2005. Fwis discusses the cover. You can listen to a story and Díaz reading from the book at Minnesota Public Radio. Or watch Diaz here.