This was the first novel by the writer Junot Díaz (1968 –). An author born in the Dominican Republic, but as a child came with his parents to United States, specifically to New Jersey, and despite what happened to many other Latinos, he ended up graduating from university, and even today he is a professor of creative writing.
Before he published The Brief Wonderful Life of Óscar Wao, Junot Díaz had edited in 1996 a set of short stories titled Drown(The Boys, in the Spanish editions). The success was amazing, something that had a great impact on the writer and he spent a long time without coming up with anything new. We had to wait until 2007 for this novel to appear, which again dazzled winning several mentions and awards, among the Pullitzer.
And all for telling the story of a family of Dominican emigrants settled in the United States. Something that he knew very well, but the protagonist is different from the author. It is about an obese, ugly boy who dreams of writing something similar to Lord of the Rings and above all, he is obsessed with girls. He wants to find a girl who loves him. Physically he is the complete opposite of the Caribbean stereotype and he fears that he will be the only Dominican to die a virgin.
This character is called Óscar Wao and through him we get to know the whole family andhis story. And that is where he becomes another character of the Trujillo dictatorship that made them flee from his island. In fact, the narrative constantly takes us from one place to another, from the United States to the Caribbean, and vice versa.
Like the writing of Junot which is characterized by the natural mix of English and Spanish. The base language in which he writes is English, but as if he were speaking at home or with his emigrated friends, words and expressions in Spanish appear constantly. A richness and uniqueness that is sometimes lost in translations. But the great peculiarity does not remain in that union of languages, the feeling is that he creates a new language to represent a new, different, fusion life. Something that in the United States, with the famous Spanglish and so much Spanish-speaking community, is tremendously valued.
In short, not only because of the plot, this novel rides between two worlds, two cultures, which enriches it enormously. Although it is true that the author is forced to put countless explanatory notes to understand Dominican traditions or the history of his country of origin, and that in some way hampers the literary rhythm of the fiction that he tells us.