the brief wondrous life of oscar wao
Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D
PAGE 4
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
By Junot Díaz

Background:
Oscar Wao is the lowest on the food chain: He is not white, he is not thin, he is not attractive, he is not completely American. Díaz is trying to put you in Oscar's place so you can understand his invisibility. Oscar falls for an older woman who's involved in a situation that can get him killed. Why does he risk it? Because she is the only person who really sees him.

Why she chose it:
Díaz talks about Dominicans and what makes us unique—especially the women. I grew up surrounded by Dominican women who were goddesses. My mother is the heroine of my life, and so are my grandmother and my great-grandmother. The women are the strongest, and Díaz caught that. I also think at certain points in your life, you feel utterly alone and completely invisible. You understand your own impotence, how there's sometimes nothing you can do about it. And that's Oscar.

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