literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature

Ocean Vuong: On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

In an exclusive London event, internationally acclaimed poet Ocean Vuong reflects on his writing life and debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous with Sandeep Parmar.

Vuong’s debut collection of poetry Night Sky with Exit Wounds addressed universal subjects of love and loss, conflict, grief, memory and desire, through the lens of myth and his family’s first-hand experience of fleeing war-torn Vietnam. It marked the arrival of a significant and startlingly original new sensibility and earned Vuong numerous awards, including the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the TS Eliot Prize in the same year.

Now the author brings his poetic precision to his first work of fiction, written in the form of a letter to a mother who cannot read. The letter traces a family history back from present day America to Vietnam, and bears witness to the love between a single mother and her son, while offering a brutally honest exploration of race, class and masculinity in contemporary America. It is both a testament to the power of storytelling and an elegy to those confined to the margins of history.

Vuong’s writings have featured in publications including Harper's, The New Yorker and The New York Times. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he currently lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he serves as an Assistant Professor of English at UMass-Amherst.

Sandeep Parmar is Professor of English Literature at the University of Liverpool where she co-directs Liverpool’s Centre for New and International Writing.

Her essays and reviews have appeared in The Guardian, The Los Angeles Review of Books, the Financial Times and the Times Literary Supplement.

Dates & times

2 Jul 2019
Approximate run time: 90 mins
Run times may vary, find out more


Purcell Room


Booking fee: £3.00 (Members £0.00)


25% off (limited availability)
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need to know

Age recommendation
For ages 16+