Although this event has passed, you can still purchase tickets now through Wednesday, June 16, at 7:30 p.m. (PDT). The event will be viewable until 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, June 17.
Ocean Vuong is a poet and fiction writer whose work considers class, queerness, family, and identity. His epistolary novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (2019), was an immediate and enduring bestseller described by the Los Angeles Times as a “series of high notes that trembles exquisitely almost without break.” Q&A moderated by musician Perfume Genius.
This event will be live and online only. Please note: this event begins at 6:00 p.m. (PDT).
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born — a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity.
Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one’s own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard.With stunning urgency and grace, Vuong writes of people caught between disparate worlds, and asks how we heal and rescue one another without forsaking who we are. The question of how to survive, and how to make of it a kind of joy, powers the most important debut novel of many years.
A recipient of a 2019 MacArthur “Genius” Grant, Vuong is also the author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, a New York Times Top 10 Book of 2016, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Whiting Award, the Thom Gunn Award, and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. A Ruth Lilly fellow from the Poetry Foundation, his honors include fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, The Elizabeth George Foundation, The Academy of American Poets, and the Pushcart Prize.
Vuong’s writings have been featured in The Atlantic, Granta, Harpers, The Nation, New Republic, The New Yorker, New York Times, Village Voice, and American Poetry Review, which awarded him the Stanley Kunitz Prize for Younger Poets. Selected by Foreign Policy magazine as a 2016 100 Leading Global Thinker, Ocean was also named by BuzzFeed Books as one of “32 Essential Asian American Writers” and has been profiled on NPR’s All Things Considered, PBS NewsHour, Teen Vogue, Interview, Poets & Writers, and The New Yorker.
Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he serves as an Assistant Professor in the M.F.A. Program for Poets and Writers at UMass-Amherst.
Perfume Genius, our moderator for the evening, is the moniker of artist Mike Hadreas. Hadreas grew up in Seattle, WA and started his music career in 2008. He released his debut album Learning in 2010 via long-time label home Matador, and it instantly caught the attention of critics. “The songs on Hadreas’ full-length debut are eviscerating and naked,” said Pitchfork, “with heartbreaking sentiments and bruised characterizations delivered in a voice that ranges from an ethereal croon to a slightly cracked warble.” These descriptors became the hallmarks of Perfume Genius—Hadreas’ unique ability to convey emotional vulnerability not only lyrically, but with his impressively nuanced vocals. Since Learning, Perfume Genius has released four more albums, including the Grammy-nominated No Shape, an album that would crystalize his fanbase world-wide and bring mainstream awareness to his art, and Set My Heart On Fire Immediately (2020), which won wide critical acclaim for its exploration of queer themes and its homage to 80s pop and classic rock.