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On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel (Large Print / Paperback)

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On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel By Ocean Vuong Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

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


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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


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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, you won’t regret it! -Cathy, Atlanta


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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.

— Della, Atlanta

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.

— Ryan, Chicago ORD

Ocean Vuong creates beauty out of pain, trauma and regret. -Sandra, Seattle


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June 2019 Indie Next List

“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


The instant New York Times Bestseller • Nominated for the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction

“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

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.

Named a Best Book of the Year by: 
GQ, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, Library Journal, TIME, Esquire, The Washington Post, Apple, Good Housekeeping, The New Yorker, The New York Public Library,, The Guardian, The A.V. Club, NPR, Lithub, Entertainment Weekly,, The San Francisco Chronicle, Mother Jones, Vanity Fair, The Wall Street Journal Magazine and more! 

About the Author

Ocean Vuong is the author of the critically acclaimed poetry collections Night Sky with Exit Wounds and Time is a Mother, as well as 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 NationThe New RepublicThe New Yorker, and The New York Times. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he currently lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593104293
ISBN-10: 0593104293
Large Print: Yes
Publisher: Random House Large Print
Publication Date: June 4th, 2019
Pages: 368
Language: English