It's been a long time since I've picked up a book and been so entertained I can't wait to steal away, if only for a few moments, to devour another page. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the Pulitzer-winning first novel from acclaimed short story writer Junot Diaz, is the kind of book you fight through sleep to read, a flashy, heartbreaking, funny, intelligent family saga about a Dominican family in New York. Unapologetic in its refusal to cater to those unfamiliar with Dominican slang, astoundingly original in voice and scope and dishing out devastating foot-noted history lessons about the Dominican Republic with irreverent flair, this is a gem of a book. In other words, you should read it. (Check out this New York Times review for further proof.) And while this tour de force is enough to make an aspiring writer chuck aside her ambition in defeat, Diaz's honest recounting of the "dozens of times [he] had quit this novel only to restart it" in this Wall Street Journal profile proves ultimately endearing and inspiring. Diaz claims to still be scared of writing but says, of his life post-Pulitizer, "what's changed is now I have hope I can write something else."
It strikes me that the last two writers I've posted about here, Diaz and Lahiri, are both writers who speak frankly about how hard this business of writing is -- but, ultimately, that it brings hope. I like that. I need that. It makes me feel not so alone in my struggles to put words on the page and reminds me that there is a reason for doing so.