Boris Smus

interaction engineering

Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao


  • Copious references to nerd culture: nerdy books (LOTR, Dune, Lovecraft, Asimov, Heinlein), video games, comic books, the 1980s.
  • Magical realism aspects: The Mongoose, cartoonish villans (The Captain, Trujillo) and heroes (Beli, The Doctor).
  • Harkening to 100 Years of Solitude in the hispanic family epic.
  • Nonlinear time, with the story flashing generations back.
  • Oscar's relatable innocence, goofy character, purity of spirit.
  • Interesting autobiographical narrator.
  • Unexpected turns. After a slow start, you are taken into a deep rabbit hole of an incredibly turbulent family story. Things get weirder and weirder and more and more depressing. Fuku!
  • Also, a really interesting look into Dominican Republic, and the political turmoil it went through in the 20th century.
  • Fun to try to decipher the Spanish only having a rudimentary knowledge of the language!
  • Very distinct and conversational tone.


  • A little too sappy and charicaturey. Oscar's self-loathing is comical, and it's hard to really empathize with the guy.