Our Bookseller says:
“One of the youngest Whiting Award winners for poetry (2016), Vuong will break your heart and teach you how to reconstruct it into a new organ: a novel. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter by Little Dog to his mother, explaining his American childhood, his art, his queerness, his brutal first love, his relationship to her intergenerational trauma, and so much more—all out of fear she’ll never understand him in her lifetime. Only thing is, as a first-generation immigrant from Vietnam, Little Dog’s mother never learned the English to fully understand his work. I don’t want to call this an autobiographical novel, but it feels as close to the bone as they come. I had to put the book down several times because I didn’t want to spoil it by gorging on it—and sometimes I needed pause to let the tears flow. Such a tough, lyrical book. But worth every word. I can’t wait to talk about it throughout 2019 and the years to come.” – Mason
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.