T h e B r i e f W o n d r o u s L i f e of O s c a r W a o also by junot díaz Drown T h e B r i e f W o n d The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao · The Brief Wondrous. Praise for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao “Genius a story of the American experience that is giddily glorious and hauntingly horrific. And what a voice. A decade later, he published his second book and first novel, “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” a book which brought him both wide.
|Language:||English, Spanish, Arabic|
|Genre:||Children & Youth|
|Distribution:||Free* [*Registration Required]|
“Still Lost”: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao as Academic Fiction I'd like to start by offering a summary of my argument and a brief overview of my paper. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. Discussion Questions. 1. What do you remember from your own high school English courses? What is the.
Okay, for the record: Since its inception, Drown was neither a novel nor a story collection, but something a little more hybrid, a little more creolized.
Okay, enough about my categorical anxieties. Regarding your question: Drown is one of those little-known books that stays in print because a sector of folks just seems to like it. Could I say anything more immodest? Just watch! It makes all the years of silence and solitude worth it. Why did you wait eleven years to publish a second book, which is also your first novel?
Were you concerned about living up to the critical and popular success of Drown? I wish I could have written four, five books in the span of those years.
Had to rethink the whole thing, was too busy experiencing the transformations in-country to write about them in an interesting way. But it was more than just being sideswiped by history. Other stuff. Being scared, for sure. My own struggle against myself. You have to become the person you need to be in order to write your book.
I guess it just took me ten or so years to become that person. This is a novel that was born after the death of my Black Akira novel.
Trying to write, trying to clear my head, trying to improve my Spanish. I lived next door to my friend and the greatest writer alive, Francisco Goldman, and we had all these adventures, spent many a night getting into trouble in the big bad Distrito Federal. I remember dashing the first part out in a couple of weeks. I thought it was a story, nothing more.
I wanted a narrative that could be top-level hilarious and top-level heartbreaking. I wanted a narrative that could be hip about the present yet also render the past not as something dead or shackled inside sepia tones but as something dynamic, with all its confusions, excitements, disappointments, and energies intact. And finally there was this very brainy interest I had in these weird and in my opinion reductive arguments in Latin American letters between the forces of Macondo and McOndo.
One movement seeking to displace another.
In the DR you could be watching the Red Sox on satellite one minute and then hear a ghost story the next. Every narrative strand you can muster. Every genre and convention. A celestial mongoose? A heroin-addicted stripper-dating uncle? How autobiographical is this novel? More specifically, who is Oscar to you? And Yunior, your main narrator, whose identity is concealed until halfway through the book, who is he?
Well, I was hoping that this book was crazy enough that no one would ask me if it was autobiographical. I have as yet not encountered a celestial guardian mongoose, but I did grow up Dominican in New Jersey.
But like Oscar I loved to read sci-fi and fantasy and horror and pulps growing up. My escape from my father and my neighborhood. But in your novel, you get inside the heads of not only different types of men, but also some very strong women, from three generations.
Women are in some sense the heart of the novel. Did you make a conscious decision to write from a female point of view, or did it arise naturally? Do you see this as part of your development as a writer and a person? I knew this novel would live or die on its female characters.
And man, did she almost take over completely. As a result she is forced to become strong at a fundamental level, strong in the way only women tend to be.
Beli as a character turned into a tribute to an entire generation of women I grew up with my mother, her sisters, my friends who had come to the United States and given their lives to build our community, to make people like me possible. Beli, in a way, was the key that opened all the other women in the book: Beli and her story made me do it.
Writing across gender lines is hard. There are only a few writers who can do this well, and most of them are women.
Toni Morrison writes some goddamn good men, and so do K.
Bishop and Edwidge Danticat and Octavia Butler. I wanted to write about women as well as these sisters wrote about men; that was my goal, my dream. Because of your subject matter and your cultural background, this novel will have obvious appeal for Latino and especially Dominican readers.
Do you worry that it might be seen too narrowly, as appealing to those readers only? What are the broader themes here? What would you say particularly to non-Latino readers about why they should read this book? Call me crazy, but I happen to be one of those writers who think that the Dominican experience is a universal experience.
What scares me is that the sci-fi and fantasy and fanboy content of this novel, not its dominicanidad, may narrow its appeal.
People I should put that word in quotes visit another quotable the Dominican Republic because they want to experience certain kinds of packaged otherness, not because they want to hear some guy going on about the Dionysian architects in From Hell. You construct an imaginary audience in your work and then you hope that its real-world analog will actually show up.
Whether it occurs now or two hundred years from now is another question. I just happen to believe that folks of all cultures and colors, and grad school types and immigrants and lexics people who love to read and fanboys and fangirls and love-story addicts and lit heads and homeboys and homegirls and history buffs and activists and family-epic lovers and nerds can all sit in the same room together and blab usefully.
In fact, I believe that all of the above were meant to sit in the same room and blab usefully to one another. There are a lot of literary references in this story, from comic books and science fiction to Henry Miller and Ayn Rand. But the dominant one is J. What role does it play here?
Tolkien certainly is a favorite of Oscar, the protagonist, and also of the narrator, Yunior. Like a lot of young readers I grew up with Tolkien, back when the only film was that Ralph Bakshi craziness.
I mean, consider his signature villain, Darkseid, whom I also tie to Trujillo: Darkseid and his Omega Beams and their ability to encapsulate a person — have you ever heard or seen anything like that? You have if you grew up in Santo Domingo. And then there was Kamandi. When Oscar dreams the end of the world, he dreams in Kamandi lines.
But what matters is this: In my youth the only people who really seemed to be interested in exploring dictatorlike figures were the fantasy and science fiction writers, the comic-book artists. No surprise: I read a lot. The men tie Clives up and leave him in the car. Oscar tells them what they are doing is wrong.
He tells them on the other side of death he will be an avenger and a hero. The two men shoot him. Analysis Oscar's return to Santo Domingo doesn't come as a surprise, given his character's tenacity and stubbornness, even when it flies in the face of self-preservation. Here again his decisions echo those of both Abelard and Belicia, who chose to stay in a place they knew was dangerous to their well-being.
Oscar's final trip to the cane fields is sealed with a sense of fate, both for the reader and for himself. He tells Clives, "it's the Ancient Powers The title of the novel reveals his life is both brief and wondrous, and he seems to see his impending death as inevitable. Yet he also seems imbued with a sense of power for the first time in his life, having made the decision to return to Santo Domingo despite the cost.
The symbols of the mongoose and the Man Without a Face return one final time to Oscar as he is driven to the cane field, with the mongoose driving a bus full of his family and the Man Without a Face collecting their tickets. Since the mongoose has been a harbinger of good luck—saving the lives of Belicia and Oscar—and the Man Without a Face has been an omen of the curse striking, it's significant that Oscar sees them together, with his family in tow.