UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Longing for dissonance : the coming community in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) by Junot Diaz O'Regan, Karen Rebecca Denise


This thesis investigates Junot Díaz’s portrayal of the Dominican diaspora in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) to propose that Junot Díaz’s understanding of belonging approaches Giorgio Agamben’s concept of community as a being together of individuals in an inessential solidarity. The novel presents the marginalized Others of the Dominican diaspora as individuals whose longing for a sense of community problematizes the notion of bounded physical and temporal loci. The characters are never only of one nation or one culture, neither can they be identified as representing a singular race, class, religion, gender, or sexuality. Rather, they occupy multiple realities across contingent temporal registers so that errancy, mutability, and ambivalence characterize their transcultural experience of the quotidian. This being in flux opens liminal spaces from which they can grasp potentiality to refigure the past and interrupt the performance of the present for cultural renovation. Through the lens of Oswald de Andrade’s cultural anthropophagy and postcolonial theorists such as Homi Bhabha, Édouard Glissant and Antonio Benítez-Rojo, this thesis discusses the ways in which Díaz’s text engages readers to re-examine normative paradigms of belonging to imagine sustainable commonalities that do not evince an essence.

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