I read six books this week, and there was a hands-down favorite. Junot Diaz's The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao is one of those rare books that is funny without being ridiculous, vulgar without being gratuitous, sad without being maudlin, informative without being dull, all on top of being a fantastic story.
In the interest of full disclosure, the n*word appears throughout the book and it took more than a bit of getting used to for a middle-aged white girl like me. I was still cringing a bit at the end of the book every time I read it. Also, there are many allusions to science fiction/fantasy books, movies, tv, and comics that are unfamiliar to me since I never developed a passion for that genre.
Neither of these detracts from a story that pulls you in and drags you through Oscar's brief life and quest for sex. Following Oscar's roots geographically and historically from present-day New Jersey to Trujillo's Dominican Republic creates an epic told in street slang at an astonishing pace.
Brush up on your Spanglish and DON'T skip the footnotes!