Intersectional Traumas

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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.

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Philip Gambone, a regular contributor to this magazine, has taught in Vietnam and worked with Vietnamese students in the U.S.

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