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  • On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

  • Written by: Ocean Vuong
  • Narrated by: Ocean Vuong
  • Length: 7 hrs and 19 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (105 ratings)

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On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

Written by: Ocean Vuong
Narrated by: Ocean Vuong
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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

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What listeners say about On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

Average Customer Ratings
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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.

1 person found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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too graphic for me...

Perhaps I have my hyper active imagination to blame but I couldn't enjoy this book owing to the graphic descriptions of suffering, intimacy and more. Some parts were too overwhelming. Having said that, there is no denying that the prose is lyrical and poetic and the emotions depicted on paper are visceral and gut renching.

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beautiful book

completely fictional but a good read surely, the best part is it makes you visualize as if you are actually part of the story

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Honest, Sublime, Powerful, Poetic, Gorgeous.

I will never find enough words to describe the sheer beauty of this book. How it fuses poetry and prose, pain and pleasure, real and surreal, human and inhuman, all in one glowing 'single use life'.

It's the story of Little dog- a Vietnamese immigrant growing up in America. But it's so much more than that. It's about Saigon and Hartford, war and postwar. It's about mothers and daughters and sons and grandsons. It talks of horrors and adventures of growing up on the wrong side of the town. And of being alive amidst death- a kaleidoscope of love, heartache, memories, dreams, and lies that hold truer than the truth.

PS: Violence, Sex, Nudity, Foul Language- if that's what you want to call it.

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Poetic Prose

Heart wrenching, but in a very aesthetic beautiful way. I felt as if the words are romanticizing the pain.

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Beautiful story and beautiful narration

This was such a heart touching and heart wrenching story. Beautiful narration by the author himself.

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Too poetic for a novel

I was unimpressed with the style of writing. I felt it was too poetic for a novel. The story about the three generations was commendable but the style of narration made it tough to engage. It somehow also reminded me of Shuggie Bain - a story of a young boy growing up. Liked how author intertwined the Vietnam war with the story but some parts like Tiger Woods connect felt too stretched & unnecessary.

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A touching story

I would not be sure if I call it a story or anything else. However my evening walks were beautiful with this book,and it touches the heart in different ways.A book I shall go back to. Sentimental and real.Life is hard and beautiful.

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 16-05-22

Too depressive.

Eh. Appreciate the insight, and the writing is good, but I don't care for unbroken suffering and misery.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-05-22

Self narration worked

One of the best books of the decade. We await the film version. Hope they get a good director.

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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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  • 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.

21 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.

7 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

4 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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  • Anonymous User
  • 15-07-21

Beautiful, poetic portrait of deepest traumas

I've never read anything like it before. The book paints unspeakable events and tragedies in a soft poetic language. Imagine a watercolour painting of a war crime scene. Fascinating and important voice.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Henn
  • 24-09-20

Not great as an Audio Book.

I found this book really hard to listen to. Did not enjoy it at all.

1 person 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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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-12-22

Stunning book

A swirly watercolour of a novel, beautiful and painful, vivid images.
The narration is a little dry for my taste but the words still sing

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  • Runtime Collective Limited
  • 22-08-22

Spectacular

This was one of the most beautiful and moving books I’ve ever read (listened to - narrated sooo well). What an extraordinarily accomplishment Ocean Vuong. Bravo

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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.

3 people found this helpful

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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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  • Donna Greene
  • 28-07-21

Loved it!

I loved this book. I loved the powerful and poetic way in which Vuong tells his story. At times touching and at times disturbing but always rich, vivid and evocative. I highly recommend this book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Dasha S
  • 24-06-21

Could do with a different narrator

Story is really interesting, however I found the narration painful to bear with after some time…

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jessie Brautigan
  • 29-11-22

Incredible!

This painful, achingly beautiful text is simply delicious to listen to. Irresistible, raw, embodied. Magnificent!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-10-22

Poetic but bleak

narrator was absorbed but not absorbing and maybe that was the story which was very bleak

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-09-22

beautiful

I absolutely loved this book. Stunning story telling and very profound thought provoking reading.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Hayley
  • 24-01-22

Aarghhh

This book!
I loved it then I hated it then I tolerated it then I loved it then I deeply hated it then I just wanted it to end.
It’s a moving book that clearly takes you on an emotional journey, esp if you are a mother of a son, as I am. I wish the writer well and hope he finds his peace.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-07-21

A ‘Gorgeous’ Novel

I am a huge fan of Vuong’s poetry and was not disappointed when he released this book. For someone who criticises the straightforward, chronological structure of the classic american novel, this was extremely satisfying and refreshing. A powerful exploration of generational trauma, growing up “different” and the very essence of life, tied in a ribbon of mellifluous prose. The fact that we get to hear Vuong himself read this work aloud takes this listening experience to another level. Although this is my 3rd time reading it since it was released, it is still my favourite read of the year. 10/10

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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