The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao declared 21st century’s best novel so far

Junot Diaz

A group of American critics has named Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, an ingenious take on the life of an overweight Dominican-American nerd, as the best novel of the 21st century to date.  Alison Flood writes, “Junot Díaz’s mix of ‘history, comics, sci-fi, and magic realism ‘ tops BBC Culture poll of US critics on the best fiction since 2000.”  See excerpts here (link to the original below):

BBC Culture, the arts section of the international BBC site, polled “several dozen” US critics to find the greatest novels written so far this century, with 156 novels in all named by experts from papers including the New York Times, Time magazine, Newsday, Kirkus Reviews and Booklist. Díaz’s first novel was top of the list for the most critics, said, with the Latino author’s Pulitzer-winning creation Oscar Wao, a “hardcore sci-fi and fantasy man” desperate to get laid, compared to Philip Roth’s Portnoy and John Updike’s Rabbit by one respondent, the critic and playwright Gregg Barrios.

“Díaz’s deft mash-up of Dominican history, comics, sci-fi, magic realism and footnotes totally rocks,” found Barrios, while critic and author Rigoberto Gonzalez said the debut “re-energised these questions: Who is American? What is the American experience?”

[. . .] The list also includes Zadie Smith’s debut novel White Teeth, Jeffrey Eugenides’ tale of hermaphrodite Calliope Stephanides, Middlesex, Ian McEwan’sAtonement, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun, set amidst the Biafra conflict. Adichie’s Americanah, and Smith’s NW, also feature in the overall top 20, which includes three works in translation: Austerlitz by WG Sebald, My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, and 2666 by Roberto Bolano. [. . .]

Here is the list:

  1. Junot Díaz,The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao(2007)
    2. Edward P Jones, The Known World (2003)
    3. Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall (2009)
    4. Marilynne Robinson, Gilead (2004)
    5. Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections (2001)
    6. Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000)
    7. Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010)
    8. Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2012)
    9. Ian McEwan, Atonement (2001)
    10. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006)
    11. Zadie Smith, White Teeth (2000)
    12. Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex (2002)

[Many thanks to Rod Fusco for bringing this item to our attention.]

For full article, see

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