Jan, 2023 - On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous - Ocean Vuong

Book Group 1 - On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong


Our January read was a book that truly made you think. As one member put it “I think the author is a genius”. His use of language is superlative. With very few words he captures the essence and says what he needs to, maybe being a poet helped!


On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is the debut novel of Ocean Vuong. Given it is a short read there were so many, many layers. Written as a letter to his mother who cannot read, written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late 20’s, Vuong explores family history, revealing parts of his life that his mother had no knowledge of.


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 very relevant to our today, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but underlined by compassion and tenderness. The book is as much about the power of telling one’s own story as it is about the obliterating 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 that survival a kind of joy.


Jay hosted and Ket Ti led in absentia with the posting of the questions earlier. We had most members liking the book however the discussion as usual helped, went in so many directions, raising even more questions that our understanding and liking of the book was enhanced. The one we couldn’t answer; if the book is autobiographical! I would definitely recommend this going forward!


Nisha Dobberstein