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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Written by: Junot Díaz
Narrated by: Lin-Manuel Miranda,Karen Olivo
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Publisher's Summary

Read by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Tony Award®-winning creator and star of the musical Hamilton, and Tony Award®-winning actress, Karen Olivo. This brilliant narration adds another layer of lyricism and depth to this Pulitzer Prize-winning classic novel.

Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fuku: the curse that has haunted Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.

Diaz immerses us in the tumultuous life of Oscar and the history of the family at large, rendering with genuine warmth and dazzling energy, humor, and insight the Dominican-American experience - and, ultimately, the endless human capacity to persevere in the face of heartbreak and loss. A true literary triumph, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao confirms Junot Diaz as one of the best and most exciting voices of our time.

©2007 Junot Díaz (P)2016 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

"An extraordinarily vibrant book that's fueled by adrenaline-powered prose... A book that decisively establishes [Diaz] as one of contemporary fiction's most distinctive and irresistible new voices." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)

"Diaz finds a miraculous balance. He cuts his barn-burning comic-book plots (escape, ruin, redemption) 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)

"Genius...a story of the American experience that is giddily glorious and hauntingly horrific. And what a voice Yunior has. His narration is a triumph of style and wit, moving along Oscar de Leon's story with cracking, down-low humor, and at times expertly stunning us with heart-stabbing sentences. That Diaz's novel is also full of ideas, that [the narrator's] brilliant talking rivals the monologues of Roth's Zuckerman - in short, that what he has produced is a kick-ass (and truly, that is just the word for it) work of modern fiction - all make The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao something exceedingly rare: a book in which a new America can recognize itself, but so can everyone else." (San Francisco Chronicle)

What listeners say about The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

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One of the best books I have listened to in a while

Great story made even better with Miranda’s narration. All books should be narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda #audible1

4 people found this helpful

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A masterpiece

I am still trying to come to terms with what I have just heard. I started this book with no expectations and it has pulled me right in, made me care about the characters in a way no book as ever had. The narration by Lin-Manuel Miranda is beyond anything I have heard... a masterpiece, no question.

3 people found this helpful

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A most wonderous book

The novel is beautifully and colloquially written. The readers and especially Lin-Manuel Miranda do a fantastic job. I almost cried at the end. Now I want to read more of Diaz!

2 people found this helpful

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Omg amazing novel and reader!

I honestly thought reading the first chapter that this book would just make me feel sorry for how much a loser Oscar I was but holy crap I was wrong!! Honestly one of the best books I’ve read! Totally worth the read!

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lacklustre

lacklustre teen romance story with lots of superficial culture thrown in for flavour. mildly annoying readers too

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  • Alison
  • 2018-02-27

Lin-Manuel Miranda's performance is perfect

I rarely review here on Audible, but this performance was so stunningly brilliant that I needed to come here to share it.

A decent amount of Spanish, a high tolerance for profanity, and a strong background in sci-fi/fantasy are all potential prerequisites for this book. As a person with a deep love of sci-fi/fantasy, a passing familiarity with Spanish, possessed of an excellent variety of profanity, and having grown up in North Jersey (to the point where I can see many of the places referred to in my mind) and attending Rutgers in the early 90s, I could, in my mind, walk the halls of the dorms, eat in the cafeteria, navigate to the apartments and streets he described, and for a few hours, flash back to that entire portion of my own life. I can vouch for its 100% authenticity in the parts to which I relate.

But the performance... the performance is worth every single moment and more. I didn't listen to this book, I lived in it. I inhabited it. Miranda was spellbinding. He utterly owned this role and shared it with the world. I cannot speak highly enough of his narration (Karen Olivo was also excellent, but her appearance was fairly brief comparatively).

I don't know if this has won any Audies, but it is more deserving of one than any book I have listened to, ever. So highly recommended on so many levels, but *especially* for the narration.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Jessica
  • 2019-06-30

Not for Me

Lin-Manuel did a great job narrating. However, I had a difficult time getting into the story. The foul language was very jarring. And I had a difficult time connecting to the characters. I was not a fan of the (in my opinion) almost derogatory descriptions of characters sexual appeal or lack there of.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Wanda O.Hughes
  • 2017-03-06

Poor Oscar

the story is compelling. At times I got a little confused because it jumps around a lot. But I was definitely sucked into the magical energy of the curse in the family. so well-read too. Definitely worth a listen.

10 people found this helpful

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  • A. Beckstrom
  • 2018-06-07

Overrated, and a chore to get through

Overrated, and a chore to get through. Nice use of Latin slang and Spanglish throughout, but definitely style vs. substance.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Jennifer Winters
  • 2017-03-08

Beautiful and devastating

I loved every minute of this book. The story was raw and beautiful and I was hooked. Lin Manuel Miranda's reading was phenomenal.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Lakerski
  • 2019-01-12

semi-real

I finished this book by intention after it had descended to ridiculousness. Would not recommend it.

6 people found this helpful

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  • R. Padilla
  • 2017-02-03

Brought to life by Lin Manuel's performance

Lin Manuel's performance brings the story to life in a way only someone who has lived with characters like these can relate to. His pronunciation, accent, imitation of the expressions and sense for the culture are spot on. The story itself is interesting and engaging, with enough history to educate, character development to make one wonder and a lot of heart. Worth every moment of your listening pleasure.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Sushi
  • 2017-06-20

Disappointing

The story line keeps jumping around and it tells a while to follow. If you don't speak Spanish you miss a lot. It's a scathing history of the DR under Trujillo but it's depressing and frustrating as Oscar's life seems a big waste as does the book and a waste of Miranda's talent.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Lynne Smith
  • 2017-04-18

Third time did it

I first came across this book when I attended a convention at which Diaz was the keynote speaker. I so thoroughly enjoyed the speech and I could not wait to start the book. However when I started it, for whatever reason at the time, I just wasn't getting into it. I downloaded an audible version a while back but didn't actually listen. So now the third time comes. Lin-Manuel Miranda and Karen Olivia have Done a remarkable job of narrating the complex story of Oscar Wao as we meet him and then learn of his family and it's past. So glad I finally finished it!

4 people found this helpful

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  • Crista
  • 2017-06-08

Shakespearean tragedy

This book had been on my reading list for a long while. Once I saw that Miranda was narrating, I couldn't resist. Unfortunately I am giving this 3/5 stars. The narration was a bit frantic. Maybe this is what the producer thought worked best, but it was read in a very hyper-active fashion that grew tiresome. There was also a lot of spanish language and spanish terms of art that were entirely lost on me (and went by very quickly in narration) such that I couldn't understand and moved on assuming I knew the gist of what was going on. However, that decreased my satisfaction with the novel.

Ultimately, this was a serious tragedy. There was a lot of history about the Dominican Republic, and frankly, it isn't painted in a very favourable light. Somehow I thought this book would be even a little bit uplifting. It simply wasn't.

3 people found this helpful