Oscar Wao is a Dominican raised in New Jersey. Fat, nerdy, and could be voted ‘least likely to get laid’, he is addicted to sci-fi and role-playing games. He has a habit of falling in love with girls and women who want to be ‘just friends’, and is willing to sacrifice everything for that love.
The setting for the novel is about evenly split between New Jersey and the Dominican Republic, much of it lengthy flashbacks about Oscar’s mother’s childhood there, under the brutal and brutalizing Trujillo dictatorship ( a dictatorship fully supported by the US until Trujillo began stealing from wealthy corporations and had to be done away with - but that is another story). The violence and brutality of life in the DR probably can’t be comprehended by those of us who didn’t experience it, but the author, Junot Diaz, does a pretty fair job of conveying the situation.
The novel is written mostly in a very informal, slangy style; something that usually doesn’t appeal to me, but in this case it works.
Without giving too much away, this is a tragic story, but somehow uplifting as well. I highly recommend it.