Home » Rebellious Lawyering and Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007)

Rebellious Lawyering and Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007)

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Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) was one of the top favorites named by participants of the 2014 Rebellious Lawyering Conference on “Race.”

From The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao:

“It was like being at the bottom of an ocean, she said. There was no light and a whole ocean crushing down on you. But most people had gotten so used to it they thought it normal, they forgot even that there was a world above.”

“If you didn’t grow up like I did then you don’t know, and if you don’t know it’s probably better you don’t judge.”
“She was the kind of girlfriend God gives you young, so you’ll know loss the rest of your life.”

“But folks always underestimate what the promise of a lifetime of starvation, powerlessness, and humiliation can provoke in a young person’s character.”

“You can’t regret the life you didn’t lead.”

“You don’t know what it’s like to grow up with a mother who never said a positive thing in her life, not about her children or the world, who was always suspicious, always tearing you down and splitting your dreams straight down the seams. When my first pen pal, Tomoko, stopped writing me after three letters she was the one who laughed: You think someone’s going to lose life writing to you? Of course I cried; I was eight and I had already planned that Tomoko and her family would adopt me. My mother of course saw clean into the marrow of those dreams, and laughed. I wouldn’t write to you either, she said. She was that kind of mother: who makes you doubt yourself, who would wipe you out if you let her. But I’m not going to pretend either. For a long time I let her say what she wanted about me, and what was worse, for a long time I believed her.”

“Before all hope died I used to have this stupid dream that shit could be saved, that we would be in bed together like the old times, with the fan on, the smoke from our weed drifting above us, and I’d finally try to say the words that could have saved us.”


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