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Summary

Random House presents the audiobook edition of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, written and read by Ocean Vuong.

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.

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 20s, 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 the 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.

©2019 Ocean Vuong (P)2019 Random House Audiobooks

What listeners say about On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Couldn't bear the Author's narration

I will get this again as a book to read as I thought it sounded really well written, but OH NO! the author's narration completely ruined it for me! I tried for a good few chapters but in the end, had to give up. It's the tone of awed reverence that he gives to his own writing that just made me feel queasy. I should have looked at the other reviews that said similar things - seems others have managed to overcome it and enjoy it in the end, but I really couldn't get round it.

8 people found this helpful

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Extraordinary writing

Beautiful, excruciatingly moving, illuminating and a book that gets totally below the skin. An unforgettable experience.

6 people found this helpful

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An Incredible Novel - Poetry

This is perhaps one of the best books I have ever listened to. At first I found the narration difficult, listened to the first 2 chapters and kept missing bits and having to go back. I persevered and was astounded. This guy can write he is a poet and the poetry is incredible. For such a young person to have the insight, intelligence, thoughtfulness and the ability to convey his story in the medium of poetry is just a bit mind blowing. Thank you Ocean Vuong and thank your mother for having you and your grandma for having her

3 people found this helpful

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An experiential monologue

I teared up a handful of times at how Ocean handles the prose, as well as the poetic tragedy + history of life. Through ritual, remedy and curiosity, the writer takes us on a journey of finding and sharing selfhood, of integrating identity into a biological as well as countrys family, of the privilege of language and the preservation of culture. He does this by a continuous ode to the woman, land and memories that came before him. This is a true treasured story. He explores themes we need to be highlighting, and does it in a way, that is so personal and honest and inquisitive, that it melts away the burdens the sentences often carry, because of their heaviness or drudgery in taking every step to get to the now. I can't wait for his next book. X

2 people found this helpful

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Poetic Prose

the prose was really fucking beautiful which makes sense because Ocean is a (spoken word) poet. However, I did find because of that if I missed one part (zoned out, was not paying attention for only a second) whilst listening I missed out on a lot. also the non-linear story telling did not help the confusion but these were only minor issues. On the whole this was a gorgeous work and a fantastic DeBuT!!

1 person found this helpful

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loved it

Delighted to have read this, such an interesting story. The author is interesting and articulate.

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listen to it and make up your own mind

I found this hard to listen to at first. the intensity of the subject matter the intensity of the authors voice and her rhythmic performance of the novel like listening to someone drawing deep breaths while running a marathon for their life. but that's the point beautiful fierce and delicate like a life thank you ocean vuong

1 person found this helpful

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Poetic

Rich in detail and beautiful descriptions. I'd probably have more time to appreciate them if reading the physical book.

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Beautiful and moving

Exquisite prose which crystallises some nebulous truths about the human condition. Unflinching in its dissection of the complex relationships between the narrator and each of the significant people in his life.

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Beautiful prose but better read the book

I started with the audiobook but somehow I couldn't get into it. So I bought the book and read it alongside the audio and it made the experience so much better. Some of the imageries and play on words cannot be communicated through the audio alone. And the gaps in the text are crucial in understanding the narrator's train of thoughts. Overall, I love the story for its depth, complexity, and richness of language. I'd recommend using the whisper-sync option, though, because listening to the audiobook alone took out the beauty of the prose (but reading alongside the audio made the experience of reading a lot more personal, esp. as the author read the letter himself).

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  • Anonymous User
  • 24-01-21

What a debut!

Ocean, through his serene narration, creates this milieu that celebrates and honors parts of society that we otherwise would never even indulge in. Oscillating between various shades of beauty, on earth we’re briefly gorgeous is beyond well constructed. A tender read that seduces with sublime writing, leaving you engulfed and speechless in its pain and beauty.

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  • Earnest
  • 28-11-20

More moving than Nabokov.

This story is so moving and real that I don’t think I will ever get over it. The realities of wars on foreign countries, on ourselves..the hatred and misunderstanding of the other, the preying of the stronger upon the weaker in any arena of human existence. It’s all here in this story. I truly understand. And the celebration of Art as a means to escape, for a time.

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  • sitatdesk
  • 19-02-20

Poetry became Prose

This is a very emotional experience. I think it is also a very good depiction of America's small rural communities and non-famous cities. Interesting in comparison to Hillbilly Elegy.