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On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

Written by: Ocean Vuong
Narrated by: Ocean Vuong
Length: 7 hrs and 19 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Publisher's 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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Pure Poetry

The most beautiful story I have read this year. I have read it before but couldn't resist listening to Ocean and going through this beautiful narration the second time.

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Dance of Pain

Pain dances to a rhythm of artfully composed sentences in the pages of this book... The writing style is what elevates this book to a higher level... Through this heartbreakingly beautiful book, Ocean Vuong builds his own bridge between poetry and literary fiction.

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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.

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  • S. Collis
  • 21-01-20

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.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Sarah
  • 04-07-19

Extraordinary writing

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

5 people found this helpful

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  • MS REBECCA WARREN
  • 07-10-19

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

2 people found this helpful

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  • tamara
  • 01-08-19

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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  • Stephanie
  • 16-08-19

loved it

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

1 person found this helpful

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  • Naomi
  • 13-08-19

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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  • maria
  • 02-07-20

Just beautiful

The stunning penmanship and 'gorgeous' imagery is so poignant and hypnotic it moved me immeasurably.

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  • VMJ
  • 20-06-20

Unashamed beauty and rawness

It hurt to listen to this beautiful book. Don’t expect a story to roll out in chapters. It’s not until you reach the end that you understand fully the layered approach to telling a life. The language is beautiful, lyrical and the pain visceral. It is an experience. To say I enjoyed it would be trite. I’m glad I decided to hear it to the end.

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  • Smiley
  • 02-06-20

Profoundly touching

Speaking from a wounded, yet remarkably generous and insightful evolving life, Ocean creates, through his words and his narration, a pathway into our own reflection, deeper than any writer I have known. This book feels like beautiful gift. His words an embrace from a knowing friend. Thank you for putting these words and this story into our lives.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-05-20

My take

Ocean Vuong is a great orator. I love how he got hooked from the beginning to the end. The book is great. Lyrical. But I'm afraid it's not an easy one to easily get on with.

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  • deb
  • 25-08-19

Sublime

Simply sublime
Thank you Ocean Vuong for this gift of beauty
Perfectly read of course by the writer himself

2 people found this helpful

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  • Lucy
  • 12-06-20

Hovers between a dream and a nightmare

The novel is heavy with beautiful prose.. almost losing itself in dreamlike connections to nature.. brutal in parts, mixed with encounters of schizophrenia , brutality and images of post war assimilation(??) into the US.
I found it profoundly dark and disturbing and it deals with coming of age homosexuality ... not an easy listen, but often dreamlike and gentle and generous,..like the authors voice

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  • Annita Boyd
  • 09-06-20

Appalling narration!

I just couldn’t get past the dreadful, mournful, monotonous tone of the narrator. A lesson that not all authors make good narrators. This stopped me from listening.