On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
by Ocean Vuong
Pub Date 20 Jun 2019
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**THE 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.
'On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a masterpiece: a staggeringly beautiful book, full of wisdom and pain. It seems obvious now, though it didn’t before, that a young gay poet born in Saigon would write the Great American Novel. I really think it’s that. A huge gift to the world.'
'On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous will be described – rightly – as luminous, shattering, urgent, necessary. But the word I keep circling back to is raw: that's how powerful the emotions here are, and how you'll feel after reading it – scoured down to bone. With a poet’s precision, Ocean Vuong examines whether putting words to one's experience can bridge wounds that span generations, and whether it’s ever possible to be truly heard by those we love most.'
'Look out: here's a new, beautiful, battering ram of fiction. Vuong is rewriting what fiction is supposed to be and it is a privilege to watch.'
'A bruised, breathtaking love letter never meant to be sent. A marvel.'
'This is one of the best novels I've ever read. Ocean Vuong is a master. This book is a masterpiece.'