The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the 2007 novel by author Junot Díaz, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, along with multiple other awards. This modern-day tale of an unlikely hero takes readers on the dark journey of a contemporary immigrant.
The novel's main character, Oscar de Léon, is a "ghetto nerd" from a family of immigrants from the Dominican Republic. Plagued by the fukú curse brought upon the aboriginal people of the Americas by Christopher Columbus, Oscar portrays himself as a hero in search of his personal Grail—a "pure and unadulterated love." Obsessed with science fiction and fantasy, Oscar is alienated in his lower-class community. Throughout high school, and into his teaching career, he is the victim of the narrow perspectives of those without his imagination and vision.
Told from the point of view of Oscar’s sister Lola and his best friend Yunior, this tale of the search for redemption leads the reader through the darkest corners of a country under dictatorial control. Lola seeks her own redemption, away from her family and her heritage. She loves only her younger brother Oscar and seeks to protect him from the curse that tragically affects their family.
Yunior, his best friend and college roommate, does not quite understand Oscar, yet loves him just the same and sees that there is something within Oscar that begs to be understood. As the primary narrator of the novel, Yunior provides a loving portrait of a tortured soul within a tortured family. The redemption of Oscar’s “brief wondrous life” comes at a significant, but justified, price.