I first read this book in June 2009 for my Third Tuesday Book Club, and I have now read the book again as the 2008 Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It is a powerful, funny, heartbreaking book about love, curses, and the Dominican Republic, and I enjoyed reading this book.
Oscar De León and his older sister Lola were born and raised in New Jersey, but they are Dominican, raised by their mother Beli. While Lola becomes a long legged beauty, Oscar becomes a very overweight geek, obsessed with women and science fiction / fantasy in equal amounts.
The narrator of most of the story is Dominican Yunior de Las Casas, who dated Lola and became Oscar’s college roommate. The overall theme of the story is the fukú (curse) that is on the Dominican Republic in general and on Oscar’s family in particular, and on zafá, the neutralization of fukú. The book is told with frequent gusts of Spanish and Spanglish, and has footnotes explaining Dominican history, especially as it relates to Dictator Rafael Trujillo, who is the personification of the fukú that dogged Oscar’s grandfather and mother. To find the zafá is harder, but it seems to center around La Inca, the cousin of Oscar’s grandfather, who is the only mother known by Beli, and the only grandmother known by Oscar and Lola.
This was a wondrous book, and one that I loved rereading.