the description on the back of the book that hooked me reads:
things have never been easy for oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick dominican ghetto nerd. from his home in new jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, oscar dreams of becoming the dominican j. r. r. tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. but he may never get what he wants, thanks to the fuku-the curse that has haunted the oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.
are you sold yet? i really enjoyed this novel for its originality, its striking voice, and its multiple references to the realm of tolkein. some other big pluses: footnotes throughout, which sprinkled historical reference to the story, and a jumping timeline which created a strong theme across generations.
not entirely my style, but its been very well-reviewed (notably, the 2008 pulitzer for fiction) so definitely worth a read if you're intrigued!