Junot Díaz's The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) was not only a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, it also holds the prestigious honor of being the next DAFFODILS (that is the Dangerously Affable Friendly Friends Optional Drinking Invitational Literary Society) selection.
The book traces the story of Oscar de León, an overweight, science-fiction loving, Über-nerd, Dominican-American growing up in New Jersey, and his family -- particularly his older sister Lola, his mother Beli, and his grandfather Abelard. The family may be cursed, or it may just have the ordinary luck of Dominicans, our narrator, Yunior (a boyfriend to Lola and a sometimes-roommate to Oscar), isn't saying. Either way, bad things happen to them from generation to generation. And while Díaz starts us out in 1980s and 1990s New Jersey, we are quickly sent back to the Dominican Republic of the 1940s and 1950s where we and the family feel the wrath of dictator Rafael Trujillo.
I thought this was a really fun read, and I am a total sucker for multi-generational epics, so if you are too I would recommend checking this one out. My big criticism is that some of the "quirks" of the narrator and author (mostly the extensive footnotes and excessive sci-fi references) were applied inconsistently and sometimes got in the way of the story. Oddly enough all the characters are very engaging, complicated and well-drawn except for Oscar himself. I'm sure this was intentional, but I can't help wishing that the reader was able to slip under his armor a bit and get something more three-dimensional from the guy.
I have more to say, but I'm going to keep it under wraps until the book club meets.