What a great title for a book. What a shame that the book does not deal in either brevity or anything that resembles an account of Oscar’s life.
This book was an absolute slog to get through. From the overt sexualization of women to the complete lack of plot there was nothing to be gained and certainly no connection to be made with any character.
“The next day at breakfast he asked his mother: Am I ugly? She sighed. Well, hijo, you certainly don’t take after me. Dominican parents! You got to love them!”
The book starts off promising, explaining the myth of fuku, a curse on the people of the Dominican Republic, but quickly settles into feeling sorry for Oscar, an overweight dominican boy who can’t get laid. This part skeeved me out (especially in the light of recent accusations). Oscar clearly feels entitled to sex to the point where he fantasizes about having sex with a friend in secret, because she isn’t attractive enough.
“Dude, you don’t want to be dead. Take it from me. No-pussy is bad. But dead is like no-pussy times ten.”
Oscar over-idolizes women to the point where they are not people and then he stalks them when they don’t love him. Cool. All of that could MAYBE have been an interesting portrait of a Nice Guy™ if not for the fact that Diaz then completely departs from the brief life of Oscar Wao and then dives back into his family history in the Dominican Republic to explain the origin of the Fuku. We follow people being raped and murdered and tortured for what they believe in. But of course the biggest Fuku is in the present day where Oscar can’t get laid /sarcasm.
All this may have been forgiven if the novel was beautiful, but it’s not. It’s crass without any self-awareness to play up against. Half an expose on the history of the Dominican Republic, half just really graphic descriptions of women as though they are disembodied parts for sex, it’s a cringy slog to get through. This book won awards?!
“I mean, what straight middle-aged brother has not attempted to regenerate himself through the alchemy of young pussy and … Beli had some of the finest pussy around. The sexy isthmus of her waist alone could have launched a thousand yolas, and while the upper-class boys might have had their issues with her, the Gangster was a man of the world, had fucked more prietas than you could count. He didn’t care about that shit. What he wanted was to suck Beli’s enormous breasts, to fuck her pussy until it was a mango-juice swamp … As the viejos say, clavo saca clavo.”
This book that made me read this with my own eyes!!! The prose is rushed street lingo and to some this may be fascinating, an authentic picture of Dominican immigrant culture or whatever. But I’d like to think that even in all this mess, the “pussy juice” and ass that there would have been real people to find, to love, to root for. There wasn’t and I finished the book and that’s the best thing I can say about it.
CBR10 Bingo: Award Winner. I can’t believe this book won awards. But then again, I totally can. URH. I wouldn’t even have read this book in the light of the allegations against the author, but it was on my shelf and it fulfilled the category soooo…