Book Review

Review – On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong


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 epicentre 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 the American moment, immersed as it is 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.

My Review:

This novel has taken my breath away. It makes me think about my mother a lot and my mother’s mother. There is such tenderness in every single word used to write this story. I have been taken on a literary journey that I am unlikely to forget for a long time to come.

This is a story about an intimate letter from a son to his mother, a lyrical and poetic recount of his life: childhood, first love, sexual awakening and loss. There is such a quiet beauty to his writing. It is sublime and beautiful. There is sadness but there is also pleasure. It is one of those books that you need to take your time to savour the triumph of such exquisite literary piece.

There are so many sentences I read over and over again. There are so many emotions I am feeling over and over again. It is just incredibly wonderful!

On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous is longlisted for Dylan Thomas Prize 2020. It is so well deserved. Thank you so much Midas PR for gifting me this copy to review. Honestly, this is one of the best books I have ever read.

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