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Smart Reads: On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

October 14, 2021
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Join in the Smart Museum of Art's virtual book club, Smart Reads!

In the fall 2021 edition of Smart Reads, we reflect on Ocean Vuong's On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, a book that is as much about the power of telling one's own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard. We invite you to read along with us and engage in two thought-provoking conversations with host Dorian H. Nash.

FREE. To RSVP, please e-mail Dorian H. Nash at

To help build a community of participants, capacity is limited and advanced registration is required. If needed, the Smart Museum can pick up the cost of the book for participants in this reading group. Instructions will be provided with your registration confirmation. 

Smart Reads is presented by the Smart Museum of Art in collaboration with Seminary Co-op Bookstores.

About Smart Reads

The Smart Museum of Art's virtual book club, Smart Reads, aims to foster care within our community during an unprecedented time of collective social anxiety and separation. Over the next year, we invite you to delve into books surrounding love, art, culture, politics, relationships, and more. Each book selection features a series of small group conversations hosted by Dorian H. Nash.


Please register to receive the zoom links for each session.

  • Part I : Thursday, October 14, 6 pm
  • Part II: Thursday, October 21, 6 pm

Stay tuned for our next Smart Reads selection!

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

by Ocean Vuong

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, Ocean 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.

Order the book »