On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
—Ocean Vuong is a celebrated young American poet and this discipline shines through when reading this, his first novel. His prose is so perfectly nuanced, capturing our often conflicted emotions, especially when it comes to love, love of our family, friends and lovers. The book is written as a letter from a son to a mother who can’t read. The letter writer, Little Dog, is in his late twenties and his epistle unearths a family history that begins in Vietnam before he was born and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known. Vuong draws on his family’s migrant experience, his difference in a new land. He explores his sexuality and the barriers he must break down. His observations of the passing of time, change in seasons and of life and death are truly poetic. If you only read one book this year, make it this one—it is so raw, so powerful and so beautiful.