Our hero: a fat, virginal, chronically lovelorn, science-fiction-obsessed Dominican-American "ghetto nerd" addled by a family curse. Told in blindingly kinetic prose, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead), Junot Díaz’s dazzling debut novel, fulfills the promise of this writer’s short story collection (Drown) and fully reveals a powerful presence in modern American fiction. Tip: Don’t ignore the high-velocity snippets of Trujillo-era Dominican political history in the footnotes: They’re the wheel on which this deeply personal story turns.


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