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Author Biography- Junot Diaz
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Junot Díaz’s fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The Best American Short Stories. His highly-anticipated first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, was greeted with rapturous reviews, including Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times calling it “a book that decisively establishes him as one of contemporary fiction's most distinctive and irresistible new voices.” His debut story collection, Drown, published eleven years prior to Oscar Wao, was also met with unprecedented acclaim; it became a national bestseller, won numerous awards, and has since grown into a landmark of contemporary literature. Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey, Díaz lives in New York City and is a professor of creative writing at MIT.

The Wondrous Junot Diaz Delivers a Classic Ten Years in the Making - Kevin Parker
Junot Díaz's 1996 story collection, "Drown," was celebrated for its sublime beauty and subtlety, its humour and humanity. It won awards and hit best-seller lists. These gritty tales about the Dominican experience cemented his status as an overnight literary success. There was a general feeling that Mr.Diaz was the next literary super star to arrive- all waited with baited breath for his first novel. Surely it too would be magnificent?

Those who held their breath in anticipation would have been gasping for air. The Dominican American author took more than a decade to pen the highly anticipated follow-up - but, brothers and sisters in literary reverie, it was worth the wait.

oscar_wao_coverContinuing the Dominican theme,The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Díaz presents a slice of the vast history of Santo Domingo and the intricate past and present of a doomed family. It tells the story of Oscar "Wao" De Leon, an overweight, nerdy Dominican-American virgin living in New Jersey. He falls for many of the women he meets, although they all barely acknowledge his presence.

Oscar longs to be the Dominican Tolkien, and his love life remains nonexistent when he attends Rutgers. His sister, Lola, and his roommate, Yunior, try to get him to leave his room and be more social, but Oscar resists. Yunior believes Oscar is suffering from a curse on the family, a fukú, which extends back to Oscar's family's past in the Dominican Republic.

Díaz's narrator, Yunior, says of the fukú:
...it's important to remember fukú doesn't always strike like lightning. Sometimes it works patiently, drowning a nigger by degrees, like with the Admiral or the U.S. in paddies outside of Saigon. Sometimes it's slow and sometimes it's fast. It's doom-ish in that way, makes it harder to put a finger on, to brace yourself against. But be assured: like Darkseid's Omega Effect, no matter how many turns and digressions this shit might take, it always -- and I mean always -- gets its man.

Can Oscar overcome the curse and find love? Well, you'll just have to buy the book and find out for yourselves.

That the book took a decade to appear is of no consequence - although we can only contemplate what we might have missed had Mr. Diaz been a little more prolific. Those professional critics, those whose reputations depend on telling it how it is, certainly believe the book is an 'event in it's own right and possibly the ten years heightened anticipation. It has now won two of the most prestigious literary awards in the western world, the 2008 Pulitizer Prize for Fiction and the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award. It also won the notoriously challenging Tournament of Books run by the booksellers, Powells, high praise indeed. No doubt more awards will come; in fact I will go out on a limb and pick it as a shortlisted candidate for the heavy weight IMPAC Dublin International Literary Prize.

Let's hope we do not have to wait ten more years for the next one.... Kevin Parker

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Reviews

USA Today review
by Carol Memmott

Salon.com review
by Roland Kelts

St. Louis Post-Dispatch review
by Holly Silva

Christian Science Monitor review
by Elizabeth Owuor

Boston Globe review
by Adam Mansbach

New York Observer review
by Emily Bobrow

Rocky Mountain News review
by Jenny Shank

BookPage review
by Michael Lee

New York Times review
by Michiko Kakutani

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