Join us for a presentation of one of the most anticipated novels of the year. Brilliant, heartbreaking, tender, and highly original - poet Ocean Vuong’s debut novel is a sweeping and shattering portrait of a family, and a testament to the redemptive power of storytelling written as a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Joe Donahue will be interviewing Ocean "Off the Shelf" for his radio show "The Book Show" to be aired on WAMC Northeast Public Radio at a later date.
Named one of the most anticipated books of 2019 by Vulture, Entertainment Weekly, Buzzfeed, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Oprah.com, Huffington Post, The A.V. Club, Nylon, The Week, The Rumpus, The Millions, The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, and more
The praise Ocean is receiving for On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is amazing. Here is a smattering of it:
“A bruised, breathtaking love letter never meant to be sent. A powerful testimony to magic and loss. A marvel.” -- Marlon James
“This is one of the best novels I've ever read. I always want my favorite poets to write novels and here it's happened. Ocean Vuong is a master. This book a masterpiece. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is an ode to loss and struggle, to being a Vietnamese American, to Hartford, Connecticut, and it's a compassionate epistolary ode to a mother who may or may not know how to read. I dog-eared so many pages the book almost collapsed--I almost did.” --Tommy Orange
“Sometimes a writer comes along and stops your breath. I'm reading On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous and there is so little air moving through my body as I read. When writing is this good, who needs air?” -- Jacqueline Woodson
“On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous will be described -- rightly -- as luminous, shattering, urgent, necessary. But the word I keep circling back to is raw: that's how powerful the emotions here are, and how you'll feel after reading it -- scoured down to bone. With a poet's precision, Ocean Vuong examines whether putting words to one's experience can bridge wounds that span generations, and whether it's ever possible to be truly heard by those we love most.” -- Celeste Ng
“[T]ruly a masterpiece...staggeringly beautiful” -- Max Porter
“Vuong’s deeply felt work might just be the first great fiction of this modern, homegrown travesty.” -- Vogue
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.
Ocean Vuong is the author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds, winner of the Whiting Award and the T.S. Eliot Prize. His writings have also been featured in The Atlantic, Harper’s, The Nation, New Republic, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he currently lives in Northampton, Massachusetts. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is his first novel.
OFF THE SHELF: Authors in Conversation - a partnership between the Northshire Bookstore and WAMC Northeast Public Radio - a live stage event featuring Joe Donahue of "The Book Show" interviewing authors. Each event is taped and later aired on WAMC, reaching thousands of listeners.