REVIEW: On Earth we’re briefly gorgeous by OCEAN VUONG

December 1, 2019

On Earth we’re briefly gorgeous


I’ve reviewed Vuong’s poems before here and this is his first novel, and I’d anticipated it with a real thrill, it doesn’t disappoint. Written as a series of unread letters, Vuong details parts of his life he has never told his mother his life as a queer Vietnamese American. The narrator’s parents, following a rural Vietnamese tradition of naming a child for something so worthless that the evil spirits might pass over the house and spare him, call him Little Dog . It’s almost autobiographical but Vuong takes the best parts of this fictional life and bids them with poetry and prose and writes a story that is deeply relatable, understandable and can find common currency with us all. He uses his differences to connect us, to show the links that bind us, to explore violence, masculinity, poverty and yearning.

His urgent uncompromising queerness is refreshing, his seductive sensuality spellbinding and his singular modern voice brings an appealing perspective to his narrative flow.  He’s an easy read, but you’ll quickly get carried away by his undercurrents into spaces and places you’d perhaps never thought of exploring or even realised existed.

Out now, recommended. To buy a copy or for more info see the UK publishers website here.