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How Oscar Wao Got His Name

 by Bennett Gordon

Tags: Great Writing, Junot Diaz, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Guernica,

Oscar Wao Book CoverThe title character of Junot Diaz’s excellent, Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a pudgy, awkward kid from the Dominican Republic. In an interview with Guernica, Diaz tells how he got the inspiration for the book’s title:

That night we were just all hanging out and it was a bunch of Mexican bohemians and me and my Guatemalan buddy. And one of these Mexican cats just pulled a book off a shelf and just cornered me and was like, “My favorite writer in the world.” He was telling me, “My favorite writer in the world is Oscar Wao, I love Oscar Wao, Oscar Wao is brilliant.” And I was dying because I knew he meant Oscar Wilde. That’s where the book began. After that party I went home and I laid in bed, and I suddenly had this idea of this fore-cursed family. This idea of this awkward fat boy and this idea that this family would be cursed in love, that they would have great trouble finding love. You know it just felt like a real good kind of novella, telenovela type plot. I just thought, “Hey, I can work with this, you know, I can really change this into something else.”

Source: Guernica