books and reading · Junot Diaz

A nation

It has been three days at I have finally finished The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I have plenty to say on that later but since I’m rereading it to jot down all the useful Dominicanisms in the book, I am drawn back to the beginning of the book. The book opens with an excerpt from a Derek Walcott poem:

Christ have mercy on all sleeping things!
From that dog rotting down Wrightson Road
to when I was a dog on these streets;
if loving these islands must be my load,
out of corruption my soul takes wings,
But they had started to poison my soul
with their big house, big car, big time bohbohl,
coolie, nigger, Syrian and French Creole,
so I leave it for them and their carnival –
I taking a sea bath, I gone down the road.
I know these islands from Monos to Nassau,
a rusty head sailor with sea-green eyes
that they nickname Shabine, the patois for
any red nigger, and I, Shabine, saw
when these slums of empire was paradise.
I’m just a red nigger who love the sea,
I had a sound colonial education,
I have Dutch, nigger, and English in me,
and either I’m nobody, or I’m a nation.”

Well, I’ve decided… I’m a nation.

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