On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
by Ocean Vuong
Penguin Press. 246 pages, $26.
“I’M NOT telling you a story so much as a shipwreck,” the narrator of Ocean Vuong’s magnificent debut novel declares. That shipwreck—“pieces floating, finally legible”—is the painful and fragmentary story of a Vietnamese-American boy trying to find his way in an alien world.
Philip Gambone, a regular contributor to this magazine, has taught in Vietnam and worked with Vietnamese students in the U.S.