On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

“If, relative to the history of our planet, an individual life is so short, a blink, as they say, then to be gorgeous, even from the day you’re born to the day you die, is to be gorgeous only briefly.”

— Ocean Vuong

In his debute novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Ocean Vuong tells the emotionally-prickling coming of age story of a Vietnamese-American boy named Little Dog. Written in a style of journal entries or letters addressed by himself to his mother who cannot read.

Vibrantly in words, the writer shared the story of his troubled family—traumatic past of his mother and grandmother, his abusive childhood, drugs and losing his first love, etc. Little Dog wasn’t just a bitter person who would have hatred towards his mother for her behaviour during his childhood. As he aged, he learned why she acted the way she acted and he understood. He forgave. He appreciated his mother. Maybe that is why he wrote this novel dedicated towards her.

Reading this book was also an emotional rollercoaster ride. I love how the writer bravely explored the issues like race, class, sexuality, masculinity, addiction, violence, trauma, grief, and language from the point of view of a Vietnam-American. A very powerful storytelling indeed. The eloquence of his proses is beyond beautiful and needless to say he’s a genius poet, too.

One of the best I read in 2019 and I happened to pick this up again last night as I was having another episode of sleepless in Yangon.


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