From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao


by Junot Díaz

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Questions

  1. Is Wao a political book? Why, or why not?
  2. What role does the supernatural play in this novel?
  3. Wao attacks the assumption that American identity, or any national or personal identity, is uniform. What other assumptions do you think the novel attacks? Why would it be important for Díaz to unravel these assumptions?
  4. Is the novel really about Oscar Wao? If so, what evidence can you cite from the novel to support your answer? If not, what do you think the novel is about, and what evidence can you cite from the novel to support your answer?
  5. Why do most of the historical facts about the Dominican Republic and the U.S. appear in the book's footnotes? What does this choice say about the relationship between the individual and history?
  6. Do you think that men, and male voices, dominate Wao? If so, do you think this is a mistake on Díaz's part, or is he up to something here? What do Wao's male characters tell us about American culture? Dominican culture?
  7. We read this fascinating sentence in John Lingham's review of Wao: "Indeed, I can think of no other novel that contains so much brutality, torture, rape, murder, and suicide, yet nevertheless feels fun throughout." Do you agree with Lingham's statement? Is Wao full of disturbing stuff? And does Díaz make it all seem fun and light, in spite of it all? Why do you think Díaz mixes such atrocities with such lightheartedness in Wao?

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...