miércoles, 22 de abril de 2020

The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Last year I was having a coffee break with my friend and co-worker Peti, and the topic of Junot Diaz came up. For Peti it was interesting to have someone to talk about the author’s narrative: a “dominican-york” with a clever style that mixes drama, sci-fi geeky stuff, a lot of dominican slang and history. Dominican history, of course. Quite a combo, right?

That’s what happens in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. And yes, I had to explain to Peti what the concept “dominican-york” means. 

On the other hand, I was amazed to have a hungarian person ask me about Junot and his work. A work that probably 99% of the Dominican Republic’s residents don’t know about, but that is praised in literature faculties and among the dominican “diaspora” around the world. 

I was always interested in reading this book and discovering what made him become the 1st and probably only Dominican-related author to hold a Pulitzer Prize. But as many of my fellow compatriots, I never did until I finally bought the book last year. 

I was not disappointed. 

However, this post is not meant to tell what the book is about. It had a different effect on me. 

I was moved by the language and cultural references, ones that only dominican descendants can really grasp. We feel the struggles in our souls. We understand the concept of living in “outer Azua” with its joys and limitations, the rooted infidelities of the male kind, the patriarchy, and the women who blindly love those men. 

I have no idea how anyone that is not at least latino can understand it that well. 

I was also very impressed about the historical references related to Trujillo’s dictatorship and following years. It also made me think of the things we never learned in history class in the DR because, if we think about it, after Trujillo, we had Balaguer or his puppets rule the country for most of the time -but few exceptions. He still had so much influence in the subsequent 4 decades. 

So what were we getting on our history books? What details were left out? 

Families affected by Trujillo’s ways didn’t say much. I used to ask my grandma about those times, but she wouldn’t say much.  

For me, this was the biggest question lurking in my mind after reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, a brilliant book written by a man with a lot of respect but mostly curiosity for his roots. And a lot of drive to tell this story. A book that took him 11 years to finish in order to give us such a masterpiece and inspiration for aspiring writers.

So please go read it. Then tell me what you think.

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