I just finished the Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. This is a good thing as I just got Denis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke. Both authors appear on the NYTimes bestseller list this week for the first time – finally. Anyway, I felt like this book had so many things going against it. There are so many ways in which I felt like an outsider. If I spoke Spanish and was into sci-fi/fantasy and role-playing games then I would get all the references. But that doesn’t matter. I think Diaz wants me to feel like an outsider. Even though most of the Spanish is lost on me (I have picked up some not so nice words) and I’m only nerdy enough to get some of the sci-fi/fantasy stuff, I was totally taken with this story. Honestly all I knew about the Dominican Republic was that it is very poor and next to Haiti. Diaz brings the brutal history to life. I can’t imagine setting foot on the island, it must be so haunted. As for Oscar, you can’t say the narrator doesn’t warn you, but his story is heartbreaking. So, was it the best book I’ve ever read? No. Did it feel like it took ten years to write? Yes. Does it live up to all the hype. Pretty much. Diaz is an original.