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Book Review: On Earth We are Briefly Gorgeous

29 Jul 2020 / 09:40 H.

THIS is the debut novel by Vietnamese-American poet Ocean Vuong, and it is written in the form of a letter from a Vietnamese-American son nicknamed Little Dog to his Vietnam-born mother Rose (or Hong).

The story also captures the life of Little Dog's grandmother, Lan, who had escaped an arranged marriage during the Vietnam War and ends up becoming a prostitute. She then marries an American soldier and gives birth to Rose.

Rose grows up during a troubled time and suffers mental issues due to the war. Rose also marries an abusive man, leaves him and struggles as a single parent living in the US with her son and her mother Lan.

There is a cycle of abuse in the story brought upon by the trauma the characters had experienced in their own lives, as well as due to cultural norms.

A well-written book about characters who are all victims of their past.

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