Donnelly Library had its fifth meeting of the Pulitzer Prizes Reading Group on Thursday, December 01, 2016 when we got together to discuss Junot Díaz’s novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
This was our reading group’s final meeting and discussion focused on several different themes from the novel. Discussion highlights included the below.
- The style of the book. Díaz’s novel is full of 1980s popular culture references. Reading group members who grew up around the 1980s understood most of these references, but reading group members who grew up before or after this time period mostly missed them. This could be Díaz’s way of disorienting many of his readers and making them feel like outsiders to the characters’ lives and cultures.
- The shifting tone of this novel also made for interesting discussion. The story starts out being very funny and then shifts to being a very serious tale. This causes a complex response in the reader as she or he follows the various characters through the different strands of the narrative.
- The title of the novel was another highlight of the discussion. Reading group members could agree that Oscar’s life is certainly brief, but it is up for debate if his life could be called wondrous.
- The reading group scholar brought up the parallels in Oscar’s desire for women and the dictator Trujillo legendary womanizing. This led into a discussion of whether or not the reader is supposed to find the title character Oscar likable or not. Most reading group members did not find him likable, but rather found the narrator the more sympathetic character.
What did you find most interesting about the fifth meeting’s discussion or about the novel? Please post in the comments below.