Ocean Vuong is a Vietnamese published author, poet, and essayist. He was born in Saigon, Vietnam.
Ocean Vuong is the author of several published books of poems. The first came out in 2010 and is titled Burnings. No, another collection of poems, was released in 2013. His 2016 collection of poetry was titled Night Sky with Exit Wounds.
It became a best seller and won the Whiting Award as well as the Thom Gunn Award. Exit Wounds was also a contender when it comes to the category of Best First Collection as a finalist for the Forward Prize. It was also a finalist for several other awards including the Lambda Literary Prize and Kate Tufts Discovery Award. It was named one of the top ten books for the year 2016 by the New York Times as well.
Ocean Vuong also received a Ruth Lilly fellowship bestowed upon him by the Poetry foundation. He also has the honor of being able to receive fellowships from a variety of foundations and sources including the Pushcart Prize, Academy of American Poets, Elizabeth George Foundation, Lannan Foundation, and more.
Ocean Vuong has had his writing featured in more than just collections and books. His writing has made it to such publications as the Village Voice, The New Yorker, The Nation, New Republic, The Atlantic, New York Times, and American Poetry Review. The review ended up also awarding him a Stanley Kunitz Prize, given to young poets.
He has also been selected as a leading global thinker pick for 2016 by Foreign Policy magazine. He had the honor of joining the ranks of such individuals as Warsan Shire and Hillary Clinton. This writer was also given a spotlight further when BuzzFeed Books picked him as one of their top 32 “essential” Asian-American writers to check out. Vuong has also been featured by NPR as well as VICE, Teen Vogue, PBS NewsHour, The New Yorker, and The Fantastic Man.
He was born in Saigon but currently resides in the city of Northampton, Massachusetts. It is just a short drive away to Amherst to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. There Vuong serves in the MFA Program as assistant professor, guiding writers and poets at the college.
Burnings was the first collection of poems to be published from Ocean Vuong. The book has found high praise from the many people that have reviewed it, with Roger Bonair-Agard saying that each of his poems is imbued with the savage beauty as well as the desperation that comes along with being alive. Find it and see what you think!
The first fictional novel from Ocean Vuong is titled On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. The 2019 book is the first full length work of this type from an already accomplished author. A story of family, first love, and more, this is a work that shows the power that storytelling has to bring a world to life.
The story starts out with a letter written by a son to his mother, even though she can’t read. The speaker is Little Dog, and the letter was written when he is at the age of being at the tail end of his twenties. The letter goes into the history of a family that started a long time ago, before the speaker was even born yet.
The past of his family started up in Vietnam, where the epicenter of it all takes place. The letter not only goes over this but it also becomes a type of doorway. It shows into the parts of his own life, places that his mother might never be able to have known. Everything involved will end up leading to what is going to become a revelation so large it may never be able to be forgotten.
This is a novel that peeks into the love that is there between a mother and the son that she has. She may have been a single mother and they had a tough life, and the relationship between them may be strained and fraught with tension, but this story is a witness to all of that. Along the way, it also incorporates a number of topics that are difficult to address.
Topics such as class and race as well as masculinity and what love is come into play. This is an honest exploration on the part of this author to find out what all of these mean, to different cultures and to ourselves. It is a story that seems unique in the way that it is told and earnest in the things that it wants its readers to cast their mind over.
Gorgeous is a novel that asks compelling questions that may have relevance to many living in the United States or other countries today. Dealing with the idea of trauma or addiction or violence can be very difficult, but Vuong manages to glide over so many of the themes of this story with a grace that comes from the tenderness and the compassion contained in this story.
This book focuses on the power that can come from telling your own story authentically. It also shows that sometimes being unheard can be just as powerful as you are reduced to silence that seems total in its obliteration and scope. This is a story that is as colorful and detailed as it is relevant and compelling.
Told with grace as well as a sense of urgency, Ocean is the latest writer to write about individuals that are caught up between two different worlds. It is a story that explores what we do to survive and asks the tough questions about what it takes for us to heal as well as how we can attempt to help each other without losing our own identity in the process.
How can we make joy in the world while we are busy surviving in it? This is a question that drives this novel, an incredible debut from a poet that is worth checking out. Pick it up for yourself and read it all the way to the very last page in order to soak up every bit of this literary tale and find out what happens with the main character and his mother in the end.
Books in order of publication:
|On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous||(2019)|
|Night Sky with Exit Wounds||(2016)|