THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO by Junot Díaz (Berkley), 368 pages, $15.50 paper. Rating: NNNN
Written in a street-wise Spanglish and scattershot with sci-fi and fantasy references, The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao is a geek-lit masterpiece. It's the story of a young Latino otaku (and wannabe Lothario) and his crazy, cursed Dominican family.
But while the novel is informed by fanboy culture - the Pulitzer winner opens with a quote from the Fantastic Four comics - it works its magic on a much deeper level, delving into issues of political history. Oscar's mother, grandmother and grandfather all suffer at the hands of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, the Dominican Republic's iron-fisted ruler.
The chapters devoted to Oscar's traumatic childhood and college years are the most emotionally raw and resonant. It's a crazy ride, so sit back, relax, take the red pill and enjoy.