Oscar Wao is a fat ghetto nerd who can’t get laid. His older sister Lola rebels at every turn. Their mother Beli had to flee the Dominican Republic after a disastrous love affair when she was only 16. Their grandfather ran afoul of Trujillo and ended up in a prison camp. The family is cursed by a powerful fukú that follows them from generation to generation, ruining lives completely and utterly. But despite this they persevere. For a while it looks like Oscar and Lola have broken free of the curse, even though their lives are difficult and complicated and messy. When the fukú finally strikes, it does so with terrible consequences.
There is a lot that happens in this book, it’s fast-paced, brutal, and graphic both in terms of language and violence. Yet it also has passages of great beauty. My only complaint about the book is that the ending is very abrupt. Yunior, who is the main narrator for Diaz’s short fiction (which I own but have not yet read), also narrates Oscar Wao. I really can’t recommended this one highly enough, despite the flawed ending; the narrative voice is profane and irritating and compassionate and completely believable, just like a real person, and Oscar himself is an amazing character. Everyone probably knows an Oscar, or perhaps even is an Oscar, but hopefully not everyone’s story will end the way his does. Fully deserving of its Pulitzer win.
Source: borrowed from library, but I have since bought my own copy