Jason Erik Lundberg (jlundberg) wrote,
Jason Erik Lundberg

oscar wao, meet pulitzer

Larry at OF Blog of the Fallen breaks the news that Junot Diaz's novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao has won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Yay! I picked up the book while I was in the States over the holidays, and gobbled it up after arriving back in Singapore. The book won the National Book Critics Circle Award earlier this year (and the NBCC gives props at their blog).

Here's my tiny capsule review, which you'd really only see if you visited my website:

Tragic and horrifying, and at the same time full of hope, the story of Huascar de Leon, his sister Lola, his mother Belicia, and the fuku that has cursed their family since the reign of the dictator Trujillo. Narrated deftly by Yunior, Oscar's college roommate, with the confident Dominican voice of a natural storyteller. Full of heartbreaking prose and faux-academic footnotes and geeky sf references, and a stunning account of the immigrant experience.

In an interview with The Miami Herald, Diaz's reaction to the Pulitzer announcement is astonishment: "For a Dominican kid with illegal parents to win a Pulitzer, a kid who grew up in New Jersey in a neighborhood where nobody gave a shit about us, a kid who delivered pool tables throughout college . . . wow, man."

He also talks to HispanicBusiness.com, about (among other things) being stressed out over the prize: "It's very un-American of me. If you win, you're supposed to be in the end zone, dancing. But instead I'm in the end zone being, like [he hunches over as if expecting a blow], you know, worried."

And he talks to Newsweek about (among other things) keeping literary success in perspective [Diaz's first book, the collection Drown, was met with incredible acclaim, which, I believe (but please tell me if I'm wrong), was one of the reasons that it took him over a decade to finish Oscar Wao]: "Someone said this to me and I love it: 'Being a hot young short-story writer is like being a hot young up-and-coming pastry chef.' Who really knows or cares in the real world? I think most of the pressure that was on was because of me. I drive myself crazy very well, thank you. Even if the first book had had no success, I would have driven myself crazy with the second one. But no, it didn't help people saying, 'Hey, it's taken a long time for your book, do you think you can't write novels?' And every time I did a Q&A at a reading, there was always someone who was like, 'So do you think you suck or what?'"
Tags: awards, literature, nbcc

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