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On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

Ocean Vuong

What a marvelous debut!

Honestly speaking, I had not been a big fan of poems or any sorts of verse composition due to its abstractness. I found it puzzling, sometimes annoying to penetrate the between-lines meaning in poems written in my mother tongue language, not to mention English. Well, Vuong’s novel, I would say, might have triggered my interest in poems.

The most compelling quality of On Earth We’re briefly gorgeous is the beauty in the simplest phenomena, in the light of joy and pain, the beauty oddly, yet beautifully illustrated and questioned.

Born in the post-war context and grown seeing the hardship of his mother whom Vuong calls Ma throughout the novel, he doubted there is a bullet lodged inside him which was inside his mother’s womb before him and around which he bloomed around. When the cold crept around him, he felt like it poking out of his chest, just to conclude that the bullet wants to stay inside him because usually, he finds nothing. To Vuong, the bullet is nothing without his body because a bullet without a body is a song without ears. Eerie it is, but here I found the metaphor poetically beautiful. “All this time I told myself we were born from war, but I was wrong Ma. We were born from beauty. Let no one mistake us for the fruit of violence, but that violence, having passed through the fruit, failed to spoil it” Vuong ends his novel with the axiom of his early life on American soil with his mom and grandma bothof whom could not read and learn English.

Fall 2019

August 9, 2019 at 3:00:00 PM


novel, history, vietnam


On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
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