An anti family epic and the ultimate anti hero. Oscar is not a play boy nor is he a homerunner in baseball as all immigrant males should be apparently among Hispanics. He is a fat little kid spoilt by his family, weird and ugly,who grows up a loser and a nerd. Worse, as an intelligent child, he is profoundly miserable all his life in Paterson , N.J. where he does'nt fit , remains a loner who reads all the time, writes stories and plays hi tech games , and never lands a girl friend during his entire life. I must say that Dominicans in general are painted here as the most awful Hispanics, possibly the most awful Caribbean's of all : Diaz calls them" obnoxious Negroes" obsessed by sex , brutality and insane rivalry or sexy broads constantly hustling and angling at getting the most prized male; poor Oscar does not have a chance.
Now, are poor neighborhoods high schools really that moronic, is male virginity ( not being able to score ) such a heinous shame and are athletic achievements so needed , in order to survive ? Probably and we are made to live this nightmare along with Oscar and his family where the women are tough fighters and economic struggle is the rule. The rhythm of the book is fast; it is high speed ,rambunctious and comical; it reads like a movie . One hopes that Oscar can find a little place in the sun and survive in the rat race, but no, he cannot. He dies young,just 23 years old sand till hoping to be happy, poor little slob, having not lived yet and it is absolutely awful.
This nice and harmless kid is killed by Dominican thugs , beaten to death in a sugar cane field, unprotected by his naive gentleness and idiotic pursuit of a fruitless amorous adventure. Diaz shows us quite clearly the horrors of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic in the sixties , which was like Kosovo, a dangerous bloody place from which one flees to emigrate to the USA. In New York and New Jersey , any immigrant is a citizen who can live in peace even if he remains a loser ; losers are the salt of the earth . Diaz does not recognize this reality ,he is writing a book on mean failure and on the horrors of immigration in a country where all aim at success , wealth, sex, and happiness in a ceaseless competition . What a nightmare.