Essential Passage 1: Chapter 1
I’m not entirely sure Oscar would have liked this designation. Fukú story. He was a hardcore sci-fi and fantasy man, believed that that was the kind of story we were all living in. He'd ask: What more sci-fi than the Santo Domingo? What more fantasy than the Antilles?
But now that I know how it all turns out, I have to ask, in turn: What more fukú?
Yunior, Oscar’s best friend and college roommate, introduces the reader to Oscar and his story. Yunior explains the concept of fukú, which is a curse that is believed in the Dominican Republican. This curse allegedly comes to all Dominicans at one time or another, having been brought over from Europe by Christopher Columbus. The tragedy of the curse runs through the story of Oscar. Although he was born in Paterson, New Jersey, the island nation draws him repeatedly, as it had his mother and grandparents, whose lives are damaged or destroyed by the fukú. Oscar, however, is more of a believer in the promise of science fiction and fantasy. In fact, his whole life is based on fantasy narratives like The Lord of the Rings. Overweight and viewed as a “nerd,” Oscar lives a life of loneliness, always on the lookout for an opportunity for love. Yet the fukú curse follows him, betraying his love and his dreams.
Essential Passage 2: Chapter 4
...Halloween he made the mistake of dressing up as Doctor Who, was real proud of his outfit too. When I saw him on Easton, with two other writing-section clowns, I couldn’t believe how much he looked like that fat homo Oscar Wilde, and I told him so. You look just like him, which was bad news for Oscar, because Melvin said, Oscar Wao, quién es Oscar Wao, and that was it, all of us started calling him that: Hey, Wao, what you doing? Wao, you want to get your feet off my chair?
As Oscar leaves the emotional torture of high school for the promise of happiness at college, he nevertheless continues to be isolated because of his obsession with works of science fiction and fantasy. Still overweight, Oscar remains the butt of many jokes, both for his appearance as well as for his fantasy fixation. Yunior becomes Oscar’s roommate as a favor to Oscar’s sister, Lola. Yunior has a strong but unrequited crush on Lola, and he vacillates between trying to protect Oscar and participating in the teasing. On Halloween, Oscar dresses up as the character Doctor Who from a long-running British television program, wearing a long topcoat and flamboyant bow tie. Instead of looking like Doctor Who, he resembles the British writer Oscar Wilde, who dressed flamboyantly and was considered a "notorious" homosexual. The physical similarity combined with the similarity of names leads others to call him “Oscar Wao,” a deliberate mispronunciation of “Oscar Wilde.” It is from this cruel teasing that Oscar gets the name in the novel’s title.
Essential Passage 3: Chapter 4
(The entire section is 1329 words.)