On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – A Gorgeous Novel

  • Title: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
  • Author: Ocean Vuong
  • Genre(s): Fiction, Epistolary, LGBTQ+, Family, History
  • Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (out of 5)On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

“I am thinking of beauty again, how some things are hunted because we have deemed them beautiful. 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, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

What’s it about

Ocean Vuong’s debut novel is a letter from a Vietnamese American son to his illiterate mother. The son, known as ‘Little Dog’, details family history spanning three generations, and events from life in wartime Vietnam to modern-day America. ‘Little Dog’ grapples with his family history and identity as both a Vietnamese American and a gay man. The story deals honestly with issues of race, class, sexuality, and masculinity and includes themes like addiction, violence, and trauma. In writing his letter, ‘Little Dog’ makes important discoveries about himself and his family, particularly his mother. The letter serves as a bridge between the two disparate worlds these characters are caught between.

What did I think? 

Honestly speaking, this novel was probably my favourite book of 2021 which is why I had to give it 5 stars. Going on prose alone, you can tell this book was written by a poet; beautifully worded and smooth to read. I especially liked the vehicle of a letter as the format for the story, something you don’t get often but feels markedly more intimate. The characters of ‘Little’, his mother and grandmother as well as other minor characters were well thought out and made the story feel real somehow. Not to mention the intense scenery depicted by Vuong’s words. I really have no criticism for this book which is probably why I’m finding this review so hard to write.

Would I recommend it? 

YES! 100 per cent, I would recommend this book, especially to aspiring writers who want a bit of inspiration and a fresh style of writing to draw from. if you’re an avid reader who loves beautifully written and interesting novels or you’re looking for a book with diverse themes, this is definitely a must-read. Like I said, 5 out of 5 stars. The book has received a number of accolades including becoming a New York Times Bestseller and winning the Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award in 2019.

Where can you find it? 

To get your hands on a copy of this brilliant novel, you can visit the following retailers both here in Australia and around the world.

Amazon (Australia); Buy here

Book Depository: Buy here

Dymocks: Buy here

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Claudia Forsberg is a Melbourne based writer and journalist. She is currently working as a Regional Trainee with ABC Ballarat.


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