"The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," by Junot DÃaz, associate professor in writing and humanistic studies, has been named best novel of the year by critics at Time and New York magazines, topping their influential "must-read" lists.
Time described the book as a "massive, heaving, sparking tragicomedy," while New York hailed its "miraculous balance" of comic-book plots and "honest, messy realism."
DÃaz's novel was also cited among the best novels of 2007 by critics and reviewers at The Village Voice, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and Publishers' Weekly.
A poll of more than 100 critics and authors also cited "Wondrous Life" as best fiction of the year. Initiated by the National Book Critics Circle, the poll surveyed new releases in fiction, nonfiction and poetry.
A round of critical praise greeted "Wondrous Life" when it was published in September: Book critic Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times described "Wondrous Life" as both a comic portrait of a lovesick second-generation Dominican geek and a harrowing meditation on public and private history.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 12, 2007 (download PDF).