The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

A New York Times Bestseller

Winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Winner of the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction

Winner of the 2008 Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize

A 2007 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Fiction

New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction, 2007

A 2007 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Fiction

A Publishers Weekly Bestseller

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, September 2007

Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister—dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fukú—a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. 

Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere—and risk it all—in the name of love.

Also includes the audiobook of Junot Díaz’s bestselling short story collection, Drown.

Editorial Reviews

“Díaz’s novel...has a wild, capacious spirit.”

New York Times Book Review

“Díaz made us wait eleven years for this first novel and boom—it’s over just like that...So brief and wondrous, this life of Oscar. Wow.”

Washington Post Book World

“Junot Díaz’s Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a wondrous, not-so-brief first novel that is so original it can only be described as Mario Vargas Llosa meets Star Trek meets David Foster Wallace meets Kanye West. It is funny, street-smart, and keenly observed...An extraordinarily vibrant book that’s fueled by adrenaline-powered prose...[Díaz has] written a book that decisively establishes him as one of contemporary fiction’s most distinctive and irresistible new voices.”

New York Times

“Weirdly wonderful...Díaz’s sentences [are] each rolled out with all the nerdy, wordy flair of an audacious imagination and a vocabulary to match.”

Washington Post

“Panoramic and yet achingly personal. It’s impossible to categorize, which is a good thing. Díaz’s novel is a hell of a book. It doesn’t care about categories.”

Los Angeles Times

“Genius...a story of the American experience that is giddily glorious and hauntingly horrific...The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao [is] something exceedingly rare.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“Superb, deliciously casual and vibrant, shot through with wit and insight. The great achievement of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is Díaz’s ability to balance an intimate multigenerational story of familial tragedy…The past and present remain equally in focus, equally immediate, and Díaz’s acrobatic prose toggles artfully between realities, keeping us entralled with all.”

Boston Globe

“This was the most dynamic, entertaining, and achingly heartfelt novel I’ve read in a long time. My head is still buzzing with the memory of dozens of killer passages that I dog-eared throughout the book. The rope-a-dope narrative is funny, hip, tragic, soulful, and bursting with desire. Make some room for Oscar Wao on your bookshelf—you won’t be disappointed.” editorial review

“In a story that moves back and forth between the Dominican Republic and Paterson, New Jersey, Díaz illuminates the tragic arc of Dominican history (especially under the brutal Trujillo regime) in the lives of Oscar’s sister, mother, grandmother, and aunt. Shot through with witty cultural footnotes, scabrous slang, and touches of magic realism, this heartbreaking family saga is a work of brave originality.”

Barnes & Noble editorial review

“Astoundingly great.”


“Díaz finds a miraculous balance. He cuts his barnburning comic-book plots with honest, messy realism, and his narrator speaks in a dazzling hash of Spanish, English, slang, literary flourishes, and pure virginal dorkiness.”

New York Magazine

“Terrific...High-energy...It is a joy to read, and every bit as exhilarating to reread.”

Entertainment Weekly

“Díaz’s writing is unruly, manic, seductive…In Díaz’s landscape we are all the same, victims of a history and a present that doesn’t just bleed together but stew. Often in hilarity. Mostly in heartbreak.”


“With The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Díaz has cemented his place in the literary stratosphere...Fans of literary fiction should dive right in.”

Bookmarks magazine

“This fierce, funny, tragic book is just what a reader would have hoped for in a novel by Junot Díaz.”

Publishers Weekly

“Exposing both the raw, carnal explorations of young protagonists and the environments that molded them, Davis and Snell work hard at portraying the intentions of each character...Well done and realistic.”


“Writing in a combustible mix of slang and lyricism, Díaz loops back and forth in time and place, generating sly and lascivious humor in counterpoint to tyranny and sorrow...Propelled by compassion, Díaz’s novel is intrepid and radiant.”

Booklist (starred review)

“A remarkable debut novel...Highly recommended.”

School Library Journal

“A rich, impassioned vision of the Dominican Republic and its diaspora, filtered through the destiny of a single family...A first novel that bursts alive in an ironic, confiding, exuberant voice.”

Kirkus Reviews

Author Biography

Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Drown; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and O. Henry Award. A graduate of Rutgers College, he is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and The Rudge and works as the Nancy Allen professor of writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Reader Biography

Staci Snell has worked in radio and as an elementary school teacher. She lives in Los Angeles where she works as an actor. Her television credits include The Shield, The Division, and various commercials. As an audiobook narrator, her numerous titles include Sandra Brown’s Demon Rumm; Ann Rule’s Kiss Me, Kill Me; Sharon Rocha’s For Laci; and Jill Smolinski’s The Next Thing on My List.

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