Contemporary Fiction

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (Get it here)

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, Brilliant, heartbreaking, tender, and highly original – poet Ocean Vuong’s debut novel is a sweeping and shattering portrait of a family, and a testament to the redemptive power of storytelling

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born – a history whose epicentre is rooted in Vietnam – and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation.

At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity. Asking questions central to the American moment, immersed as it is in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one’s own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard.

With stunning urgency and grace, Ocean Vuong writes of people caught between disparate worlds, and asks how we heal and rescue one another without forsaking who we are. The question of how to survive, and how to make of it a kind of joy, powers the most important debut novel of many years.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Get it here).

Review quote

“Everything is beautiful in this debut… Vuong has originality running through his veins, and a good deal of humour and impish charm… This impressive debut hints at even greater things to come.” * The Times * “A stunning, beautiful book… His writing is phenomenal… Simply brilliant.” * BBC Radio 4 Saturday Review.

“This is some of the most moving writing I’ve read… The tenderness of the prose feels like a triumph against a world hellbent on embittering the tenderhearted… the truths arrived at in this book are valuable precisely because they are steeped in feeling.” * New York Times * “Vuong is surely a literary descendant of the author of Leaves of Grass. Emerging from the most marginalized circumstances, he has produced a lyrical work of self-discovery that’s shockingly intimate and insistently universal… Not so much briefly gorgeous as permanently stunning.” — Ron Charles * Washington Post.

About Ocean Vuong

Ocean Vuong was a Ruth Lilly fellow and winner of a Pushcart Prize, and has received honours and awards from Poets House and the Academy of American Poets. Night Sky with Exit Wounds won the 2016 Whiting Award in the States, and the 2017 Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the T.S. Eliot Prize in the UK. He teaches at Amherst College, Massachusetts.

Product details

  •  Hardback | 256 pages
  •  144 x 222 x 26mm | 377g
  •  15 Jul 2019
  •  Vintage Publishing
  •  Jonathan Cape Ltd
  •  London, United Kingdom
  •  English
  •  1787331504
  •  9781787331501
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