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On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

Ocean Vuong
2019, 242 p.

This novel tells the story of Little Dog, the son of Vietnamese immigrant parents in the US. This is done in the form of a letter addressed to his illiterate mother. Dear Ma, I am writing to reach you even if each word I put down is one word further from where you are. The writing is a mix of a shared past with his traumatised mother and a schizophrenic grandmother as well as his own thoughts and feelings. He is lonely and discriminated against because of the colour of his skin. He finds a friend in Trevor and growing up they discover their teenage sexual love for each other. The letter to his mother is at the same time a search for his own identity. This debut novel contains autobiographical elements and is written in a precise, poetic style about the strong will power of a man who has to overcome many difficulties.


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