The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Junot Diaz, Author, Jonathan Davis, Read by, Staci Snell, With , read by Jonathan Davis with Staci Snell. Penguin Audio $39.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-14-314280-5

What a bargain to have Díaz’s short story collection, Drown , included (on the last five CDs) with the talented, emerging Dominican-American writer’s first novel. Davis reads both superbly. He captures not only the fat, virginal, impractical Oscar, but he also gives a sexy vigor to Yunior, who serves as narrator and Oscar’s polar opposite. Davis also gives voice to Oscar’s mother, Beli, whose fukú curse infects the entire family, except for Oscar’s sister, Lola, performed in a flat voice by Snell, whose performance overlooks Lola’s energy and resolve. Both Snell and Davis move easily from English to Spanish/Spanglish and back again, as easily as the characters emigrate from the Dominican Republic to Paterson, N.J., only to be drawn back inexorably to their native island. Listeners unfamiliar with Spanish may have difficulty following some of the dialogue. However, it’s better to lose a few sentences than to miss Davis’s riveting performance, perfect pace and rich voice, which are perfectly suited to Díaz’s brilliant work. Simultaneous release with the Riverhead hardcover (Reviews, June 18). (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 10/29/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
Genre: Audio
Hardcover - 339 pages - 978-1-59448-958-7
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