Speaking of Madness in the First Person/Speaking Madness in the Second Person? Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and “The Cheater’s Guide to Love”

  • Delphine MunosEmail author
Part of the New Caribbean Studies book series (NCARS)


Drawing on Shoshana Felman’s distinction between “the texts of madness” and “the madness of texts,” Munos looks at Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) and “The Cheater’s Guide to Love” (2012), a short story written in the second person, with a view to showing how the “reader-effects” at play in these two texts further ambiguate the suggested equation between cultural authenticity and Dominican hyper-masculinity. By comparing Díaz’s use of the first person in his novel and that of the second person in his short story, Munos’s aim is to show how “The Cheater’s Guide” shifts the ground of analysis even more irrevocably from thematizing the madness of Dominican hyper-masculinity to dramatizing the status of knowledge and the very possibility of interpretation.

Works Cited

  1. Benveniste, Emile. Problems in General Linguistics. Vol. 1. Trans. Mary Elizabeth Meek. Coral Gables: U of Miami P, 1971. Print. Trans. of Problèmes de linguistique générale. Paris: Gallimard, 1966. Print.Google Scholar
  2. Brooks, Peter. Troubling Confessions: Speaking Guilt in Law and in Literature. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2000. Print.Google Scholar
  3. Butler, Judith. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. London: Verso, 2004. Print.Google Scholar
  4. Coetzee, J.M. Doubling the Point: Essays and Interviews. Ed. Derek Attwell. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1992. Print.Google Scholar
  5. Davoine, Françoise, and Jean-Max Gaudillière. History beyond Trauma. New York: Other, 2004. Print.Google Scholar
  6. Díaz, Junot. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. New York: Faber, 2007. Print.Google Scholar
  7. ———. “The Cheater’s Guide to Love.” This Is How You Lose Her. By Díaz. New York: Riverhead, 2012. 173–213. Print.Google Scholar
  8. ———. Drown. New York: Riverhead, 1996. Print.Google Scholar
  9. ———. “Interview with Paul Jay.” 2008. n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2016.Google Scholar
  10. ———. “Mil Máscaras: An Interview with Pulitzer-Winner Junot Díaz.” By Matt Okie. Identity Theory. 2 Sept. 2008. Web. 13 Nov. 2016.Google Scholar
  11. ———. “Questions for Junot Díaz.” Interview by Meghan O’Rourke. Slate. 8 Nov. 2007. Web. 13 Nov. 2016.Google Scholar
  12. ———. “The Search for Decolonial Love: An Interview with Junot Díaz.” By Paula M.L. Moya. Boston Review. 26 June 2012. Web. 13 Nov. 2016.Google Scholar
  13. ———. This Is How You Lose Her. New York: Riverhead, 2012. Print.Google Scholar
  14. Felman, Shoshana. Writing and Madness. Trans. Martha Noel Evans and Shoshana Felman, with Brian Massumi. Palo Alto: Stanford UP, 2003. Print. Trans. of eight chapters from La folie et la chose littéraire. Paris: Seuil, 1978. Print.Google Scholar
  15. Fludernik, Monika. “The Category of Person in Fiction: You and We Narrative-Multiplicity and Indeterminacy of Reference.” Current Trends in Narratology. Ed. Greta Olson. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011. 101–41. Print.Google Scholar
  16. Gantz, Lauren Jean. “‘Nothing Ever Ends’: Archives of Written and Graphic Testimony in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” Ariel 46.4 (2015): 123–53. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gilroy, Paul. “Living Memory: A Meeting with Toni Morrison.” Small Acts: Thoughts on the Politics of Black Cultures. By Gilroy. London: Serpent’s Tail, 1993. 175–82. Print.Google Scholar
  18. Goh, Robbie B.H. “Narrating ‘Dark’ India in Londonstani and The White Tiger.” Journal of Commonwealth Literature 46.2 (2011): 327–44. Print.Google Scholar
  19. Graulund, Rune. “Generous Exclusion: Register and Readership in Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” MELUS 39.3 (2014): 31–48. Print.Google Scholar
  20. Hall, Stuart. “Cultural Identity and Diaspora.” Identity: Community, Culture, Difference. Ed. Jonathan Rutherford. London: Lawrence, 1990. 222–37. Print.Google Scholar
  21. Hanna, Monica. “‘Reassembling the Fragments’: Battling Historiographies, Caribbean Discourse, and Nerd Genres in Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” Callaloo 33.2 (2010): 498–520. Print.Google Scholar
  22. Harford Vargas, Jennifer. “Dictating a Zafa: The Power of Narrative Form in Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” MELUS 39.3 (2014): 8–30. Print.Google Scholar
  23. Herman, David. “Textual ‘You’ and Double Deixis in Edna O’Brien’s ‘A Pagan Place.’” Style 28.3 (1994): 378–410. Print.Google Scholar
  24. Horn, Maja. Masculinity after Trujillo: The Politics of Gender in Dominican Literature. Gainesville: UP of Florida, 2014. Print.Google Scholar
  25. James, Henry. The Turn of the Screw. 1898. London: Penguin, 1994. Print.Google Scholar
  26. Jay, Paul. Global Matters: The Transnational Turn in Literary Studies. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2010. Print.Google Scholar
  27. Kacandes, Irene. “Are You in the Text?: The Literary Performative in Postmodernist Fiction.” Text and Performance Quarterly 13 (1993): 139–53. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kincaid, Jamaica. A Small Place. New York: Farrar, 1988. Print.Google Scholar
  29. Machado Sáez, Elena. Market Aesthetics: The Purchase of the Past in Caribbean Diasporic Fiction. Charlottesville: U of Virginia P, 2015. Print.Google Scholar
  30. Mermann-Jozwiak, Elisabeth Maria. “Beyond Multiculturalism: Ethnic Studies, Transnationalism, and Junot Díaz’s Oscar Wao.” Ariel 43.2 (2013): 1–24. Print.Google Scholar
  31. Moya, Paula M.L. “Dismantling the Master’s House: The Decolonial Literary Imaginations of Audre Lorde and Junot Díaz.” Junot Díaz and the Decolonial Imagination. Ed. Monica Hann, Jennifer Harford Vargas, and José David Saldívar. Durham: Duke UP, 2016. 231–55. Print.Google Scholar
  32. Nurse, Keith. “Masculinities in Transition: Gender and the Global Problematique.” Interrogating Caribbean Masculinities: Theoretical and Empirical Analyses. Ed. Rhoda E. Reddock. Kingston: U of the West Indies P, 2004. 3–37. Print.Google Scholar
  33. Patteson, Richard. “Textual Territory and Narrative Power in Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” Ariel 42.3–4 (2012): 5–20. Print.Google Scholar
  34. Riofrio, John. “Situating Latin American Masculinity: Immigration, Empathy and Emasculation in Junot Díaz’s Drown.” Atenea 28.1 (2008): 23–36. Print.Google Scholar
  35. Ryan, Marie-Laure. Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2001. Print.Google Scholar
  36. Saldívar, José David. “Junot Díaz’s Search for Decolonial Aesthetics and Love.” Junot Díaz and the Decolonial Imagination. Ed. Monica Hann, Jennifer Harford Vargas, and José David Saldívar. Durham: Duke UP, 2016. 321–50. Print.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Goethe University FrankfurtFrankfurtGermany

Personalised recommendations