On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
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On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

4.29 (3,277 ratings by Goodreads)
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**THE SUNDAY TIMES and NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER**

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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 144 x 222 x 26mm | 377g
  • Jonathan Cape Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1787331504
  • 9781787331501
  • 42

Review Text

"Vuong’s material is gripping even in precis… Vuong’s determination to see well-trodden ground afresh, with unremitting complexity, is extremely rare... In these authenticity-hungry times, Vuong could have let his sensational biography simply “speak for itself”. There is a great deal to admire: that he was able to give such personal material novelistic treatment; that he had the patience to wait until that was possible; that he only had wait until he was 30… [an] exciting talent."
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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 * "Vuong is a prodigious talent, his handling of words and images both brutal and delicate, his treatment of violence, sex and the body radically clear-eyed." * Financial Times * "Vuong as a writer is daring. He goes where the hurt is, creating a novel saturated with yearning and ache... He transforms the emotional, the visceral, the individual into the political in an unforgettable - indeed, gorgeous - novel." * Time Magazine * "Vuong's material is gripping even in precis... Vuong's determination to see well-trodden ground afresh, with unremitting complexity, is extremely rare... In these authenticity-hungry times, Vuong could have let his sensational biography simply "speak for itself". There is a great deal to admire: that he was able to give such personal material novelistic treatment; that he had the patience to wait until that was possible; that he only had wait until he was 30... [an] exciting talent." * Sunday Times * "[Vuong] mines his extraordinary family story with passion and beauty... Vuong writes wonderfully." * Guardian * "This is a stunning, sensuous novel that paints a portrait of a mother and her child struggling to work out how to live in a new land. There is fear and anger but the boy's love for his mother - and for the world that surrounds him - sings off the page." * Monocle * "Utterly captivating writing." * Daily Mail *
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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.
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Rating details

3,277 ratings
4.29 out of 5 stars
5 53% (1,739)
4 30% (999)
3 11% (369)
2 3% (108)
1 2% (62)
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