I mean, really, WOW!
This is Some Book. Don't take my word for it -- check out all the reviews. And then there's that Pulitzer Prize thing -- not bad for a first novel.
(Of course, Diaz had been polishing his prose, publishing stories in The New Yorker for some time.)
I was going to save this post for a while, since I just carried on about a book the other day. But I wanted to acknowledge Banned Books Week and this book would undoubtedly make some folks' banned list -- language, sexual situations, violence -- and in the Dominican Republic, I have no doubt it would Not be popular among many.
The book is, on the surface, the story of Oscar, whose Dominican heritage haunts his nerdy, role-playing gamer, fat boy, loser life. But what it really is is an exploration of that heritage, that curse, that land called the Dominican Republic.
A bit of history -- Trujillo, who ruled the DR with an iron hand (and US support for many years till the CIA allegedly arranged his assassination) was as cruel and lunatic a dictator as Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot, Stalin, Idi Amin, ____(insert name here).
Trujillo ordered the death of any Haitians living in the DR or of any Dominicans with Haitian blood -- sending his minions to do the execution with machetes. All of this to make the DR a 'whiter' nation. (Trujillo himself was a quarter Haitian.)
He was infamous in lechery -- an eye for the ladies and girls -- who, single or married, were all available to him -- or else.
And our government supported this man, fearing that with him gone, the Socialists would take over. When his excesses become too excessive to overlook, he was removed and another dictator, almost as bad if not so psychotic, was installed.
Oh, it makes me want to weep.
But this wonderful, sprawling, quirky, somehow good-humored, in spite of all that is evil, book is a testament to the light that still shines in the heart of one Dominican.