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On earth we're briefly gorgeous : a novel
2019
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A first novel by the award-winning author of Night Sky with Exit Wounds is written in the form of a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read about the impact of the Vietnam war on their family. - (Baker & Taylor)

"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 epicenter 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"-- - (Baker & Taylor)

A letter from a son to a mother who cannot read reveals the impact of the Vietnam War on their family history and provides a view into parts of the son's life that his mother has never known. - (Baker & Taylor)

Longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction! 

An instant New York Times Bestseller! 

Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal! 

Named one of the most anticipated books of 2019 by Vulture, Entertainment Weekly, Buzzfeed, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Oprah.com, Huffington Post, The A.V. Club, Nylon, The Week, The Rumpus, The Millions, The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, and more.

“A lyrical work of self-discovery that’s shockingly intimate and insistently universal…Not so much briefly gorgeous as permanently stunning.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post

Poet Ocean Vuong’s debut novel is a shattering portrait of a family, a first love, and 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 epicenter 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 our American moment, immersed as we are 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. - (Penguin Putnam)

Author Biography

Ocean Vuong is the author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds and the New York Times bestselling novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. A recipient of the 2019 MacArthur "Genius" Grant, he is also the winner of the Whiting Award and the T.S. Eliot Prize. His writings have been featured in The AtlanticHarper's MagazineThe Nation, The New RepublicThe New Yorker, and The New York Times. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he currently lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.  - (Penguin Putnam)

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