The story is simple yet complex, involving generations of a family that are doing their best to find love and happiness between lives spent in New Jersey and their homeland of Santo Domingo. But there is no separation, and the countries are only as far apart as a few hours on an airplane; closer even, as the old culture blends into the new.
The story is riddled with metaphors here and there, but the most obvious are the faceless man and the Mongoose; symbols at face value of the fuku–the curse, and Zafa, a protective force of hope.
Junot Diaz has an extraordinary voice in his dual narrators and the inclusion of Spanish words, phrases, and colloquialisms add the emphasis to the drama that the strong characters seem to hold within themselves. Strong-willed, defiant women who make Oscar seem more nerdy than he is hold the reader's attention for the majority of the book. But as with our first image of Oscar's mother through his and his sister Lola's eyes, Oscar changes in his final days and we find the strength of his determination that we saw in the rebellious and passionate natures of the women.
An extremely interesting story of a family as well as an almost too-close-for-comfort intimacy with the evil that reigned in the Dominican Republic through generations. An excellent read.
As I often do at the end of a reading, I study more about the book and the author if it has held my interest, and have found that Senor Diaz has a website and noticed that he will be speaking at Storrs (UConn) in April of next year.