📖: Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (2019)
🍸: dear ma
Why this book?
This book is my favorite read of 2020. It lives up to its title – absolutely GORGEOUS. The language in this novel is poignant and poetic and reflective and masterful. I have so much admiration for ocean_vuong and his writing, and am so excited to see that this novel is being adapted for film by A24!
This is a piece of literature that I want to keep holding close to my heart. I am an only child of a single mother, so the narrator’s portrayal of the complications, expectations, and anxieties in his relationship with his mother struck a chord with me. Like the narrator, I also grew up in New England as a Vietnamese immigrant, in a family where memories of the War are not just historical events, but a part of who you are and who you grow up to be. So when the narrator expresses the melancholy of living in such a community and the desire to get out and create your own story — I totally felt that.
Beyond these themes, the novel is also about coming of age as a queer person, falling in love for the first time, navigating trauma and grief, and ultimately, survival through storytelling. Our time on earth is brief — how do we reconcile and reckon with our memories of the people we love and lose throughout our lives?
Why this drink?
“Dear Ma” are among the first words that open this novel, written as a letter from the narrator to his mother Hồng, whose name means “rose” in Vietnamese. I chose to pair this book with a rose-flavored drink in honor of his mother.
1 oz vodka
1 oz lychee liqueur
0.5 oz Cocchi Americano
0.5 oz lemon juice
0.5 tsp ginger syrup
2-3 drops of rose water, to taste
dried rose buds/petals and lemon
- To make the ginger syrup, heat freshly grated ginger with 1 part sugar and 1 part water on the stove, just until it begins to boil. Remove immediately from stove and let cool in an airtight container. Strain out the ginger before combining with other cocktail ingredients.
- Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, and shake well.
- Strain into a chilled glass, with or without ice.
Another round, please! 🥂
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Finished the book? What did you think about it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Check out these amazing podcast episodes to hear more from and about Ocean Vuong!