The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz

This is a chapter level summary of the references in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Fuku - mentioned frequently in the book - is pretty clearly the idea of a curse.

The Admiral that is talked about is undoubtedly Christopher Columbus. Interestingly the book claims he was syphilitic when he died. Research shows he had "reactive arthritis" which caused his many issues. Columbus thought until his dying day that he had discovered Asia, not a new continent. Interestingly there are remains of Columbus (supposedly) on the Dominican Republic. There are also remains in Spain which have been mtDNA tested and do seem to be the actual remains of Columbus. The Dominicans are not allowing their remains to be tested so it is unsure what those are.

Fua - used as an exclamation, sort of like "poof". Interestingly, "fua" is an exclamation in Japanese, in sort of a "fua, the candle was blown out" sort of way. In the book it goes "fua, a hurricane would sweep your family out to sea." So I wonder if Fua is really a Dominican phrase or if it's a phrase from his Anime leanings.

The book does some rhyming plays. "Richest jabao in Mao". A jabao is someone with light skin and blonde, curly hair. Then the book says the "poorest guey in El Buey" with guey meaning a fool. I think we can guess what an "anciano sanmacorisano" is :) "littlest carajito in San Francisco" doesn't rhyme very well. Carajito is "little kid" as in immature.

Speaking of which, "jojote" in the next line means unripe / not mature.

Next we get "where in conazo do you think ..." which makes you think it's "where in the hell ..." but actually conazo seems to be "pain in the neck" in a nasty sort of way.

Darkseid's Omega Effect - Darkseid was a master villan in the DC comic line. Rock-like creature, super powerful. He wants (of course) complete control over the universe. His Omega Effect shoots from his eyes and lets him destroy or control things.

Morgoth's Bane - you actually get a full footnote on this but it doesn't make things much clearer for most :) Morgoth was a key villan in The Simarillion - the story "before" the Hobbit / Lord of the Rings stories by JRR Tolkein. To be honest I've read all of these books and I know about Turin's Bane but I don't know what Morgoth's Bane would be. Did he just mean that Morgoth was a nasty guy? :)

Toto, before Kansas goes bye-bye - refers of course to the Wizard of Oz, where toto is the dog sucked up with Dorothy in the tornado and brought off to a magical new world :)

tio = uncle

Zafa = how to get rid of bad luck

"brings shells in from the beach it's zafa" - there are actually people who believe it's bad luck to bring shells or sand home from a beach. In fact there's a service (I'm not kidding) in Hawaii that will let you mail back to them any lava you took while on the island of Hawaii and they promise to return it to the shore so you stop having bad luck. The thought being that you took the lava, you got deluged with bad luck and the only way to "fix it" is to mail the lava back to where it belongs. Powerful stuff.

"if you serve a man parcha it's zafa" - I suppose an anti-gay slur :) Parcha is passionfruit and a sign of romancing someone. I suppose they are saying it's all right if you are a GIRL and serve a man parcha :)

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Chapter Index

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