One of the most beautiful, harshest, saddest, sweetest, most perfect books I have ever read, acclaimed poet Ocean Vuong’s first novel is an unflinchingly honest portrayal of the brutality and tenderness of life on earth. It is about the struggles large and small that one young boy and his family (and his first love) face just trying to survive. From wartime Vietnam, to life in America as a first generation immigrant, to addiction, to poverty, to the vulnerabilities of intimacy, those challenges can feel overwhelmingly dark. Yet there is a kind of light in that boy’s search for understanding, for meaning, in seeking to recognize and to give love. -Sara, Atlanta
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is what other books aspire to be. Every word, sentence, and inflection is crafted to paint this life, this story, in a way that flows from the pages. The audiobook only adds to the experience, with Ocean Vuong narrating in such a way that feels authentic, with perfect timing. I was blown away by this poetic and powerful story. -Jenn, Atlanta
A tender and beautifully written coming of age story that will stop you in your tracks and demand you pay attention. Read by Ocean Vuong himself, the audiobook is even more impactful. Download it through Libro.fm, you won’t regret it! -Cathy, Atlanta
Ocean Vuong’s unapologetic exploration of what it means to be human is also a powerful reminder of the importance of love in uncertain times. To love as a means of survival and as a means of rescue, to love and keep hold of oneself while letting go of the individual traumas that make up the whole. A story of finding joy in survival On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is an unforgettable must read.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, the debut novel from award-winning poet Ocean Vuong, is a visceral, immediate, and stunning coming-of-age story. While touching on topics and experiences that are familiar, what sets this book apart from many others is that the main character, known only as Little Dog, has been given the “poet’s eyes” of the book’s author. Little Dog is soft-spoken and quiet in life, yet he observes everything around him, sees shades of gray in both the beauty and the grime, and presents it all to the reader in unforgettable and mesmerizing ways. There is a rhythm, a cadence, and a vision that having finished the book, one is left with a feeling of having visited the Vietnamese rice fields, walked in rusting tobacco barns, meanderingly rode bicycles through varied streets of Hartford, Connecticut. It is a rare writer that can elicit such a feeling of literary immersion and leaves me looking forward to more from this author in the future.
“Alright 2019, this is the novel to beat. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is the rare novel that makes you experience reading in a slightly different way and shows you that, no matter how many books you’ve read, something new and uniquely beautiful can still be found. The novel takes the form of a letter written by the main character, Little Dog, to his mother — an immigrant from Vietnam who cannot read. The power of Vuong’s poetic writing shimmers with every paragraph, and each phrase is a carefully considered, emotional journey. Grappling with themes of identity, sexuality, addiction, violence, and finding your place in a world where you feel you don’t belong, this book already feels like a modern classic, destined to be read and talked about for years to come.”
— Caleb Masters, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC