‘The página is still blanca’: reading the blanks in Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Hispanic Research Journal
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This article reads Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao via its trope of ‘páginas en blanco’ in order to argue that its creolised language, stylistic devices, and structural organisation mimic the experience of reading narratives about or produced under conditions of censorship and repression. Positioning Oscar Wao as what Roland Barthes calls a ‘writerly’ text, it argues that the novel’s linguistic, typographic, and structural blanks demand an engaged, active readership that must translate, explain, and uncensor parts of the novel for themselves. The latter part of the article focuses on authorial paratexts in which Díaz responds parodically to readers’ desire for clarity and certainty. It demonstrates how Díaz appears to ‘fill in’ his novel’s textual blanks while also drawing attention to readers’ necessary participation in the ongoing construction of textual meaning. The partial erasures and rewritings that occur at different stages of this novel’s production and reception convey the way narratives, especially those produced about or under conditions of domination, will always contain certain unreadable blanks.
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