Diaz is a smarty-pants of a writer (like Chabon and DeLillo), showing off his wit and knowledge in a story that goes outside our expectations of a novel. A few Book Club members liked the combination of playfulness and intellect, comedy and tragedy. Readers put off by extensive footnotes, untranslated Spanish slang, and allusions to characters from comic books and science fiction stories didn’t enjoy it so much. Not a crowd-pleaser, this book was most appreciated by readers familiar with Spanish.
A couple of people commented that they preferred Julia Alvarez’ In the Time of the Butterflies for a novel about the Dominican Republic.
The group was split on this one. Some were engrossed by vivid writing, strong characters and the tragic setting. They were inspired by the story of sisters from a “good family,” transformed into political radicals, and the tragedy of the one who survived.
Others were disappointed to find such rich material – location, subject matter, plot – falling so flat for them. A few mentioned the Hussein’s “The Kite Runner,” saying they found his writing much more compelling. CD and BT both called Alvarez’ book boring.
JW and HF disagreed, feeling that Alvarez succeeded in writing a book that is “not, after all, a historical document, but a way to travel through the human heart.”