Author: Junot Diaz
Released: 2007
Genre: Coming-of-age drama

The quest to lose one’s virginity has formed the basis for many memorable novels; it’s the backbone of Oscar Wao, a discursive novel that takes long, hysterical detours through the history of the Dominican Republic, where Diaz was born. Oscar, the novel’s protagonist, is an overweight nerd who wants to get laid, but the going is tough; Akira is a text of biblical importance for this kid. It might be for you, too.

Pop culture as kinship is key in Diaz’s novel, a story of one nation’s history as told through one family. Full of stylistic flare—footnotes and slang abound—Diaz is a postmodern writer with a beating bloody heart, capable of making you feel and understand a place and culture your school textbook might’ve been quick to forget.

Fun Fact: Amongst the various major awards won by Junot Diaz for Oscar Wao was the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in 2008.