Author Profile: Ocean Vuong

Author Profile:  Ocean Vuong is a Vietnamese-American poet, professor, novelist and essayist.

Name: Ocean Vuong

Timeline: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is his debut novel published in the year 2019. Penguin Press published his first novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous on June 4th, 2019.

Background: Ocean Vuong was born on a rice farm on 14th October 1988 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and he is 31 years old now. He resides in Northampton, Massachusetts, U.S. with American nationality. He is a Kundiman fellow and works as an assistant professor in the MFA Program for Writers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Ocean Vuong completed his BA degree in 19Th century English literature at Brooklyn College within the City University of New York system, where novelist and poet, Ben Lerner taught him. He completed his Master of Fine Arts degree at New York University. New York University awarded him his M.F.A. in poetry.

Ocean Vuong’s grandmother worked in the Navy as an American soldier from Michigan. During the Vietnam War his grandparents met, married and had 3 children including Ocean Vuong’s mother. Circumstances made Ocean Vuong’s family flee to Vietnam in a refugee camp after which they achieved asylum and migrated to America. At the age of eleven, Ocean Vuong who was suspected of dyslexia, was the first to read and learn in the family. He describes himself as being taken care of by women. His mother renamed him as ‘Ocean’ after learning the definition of the word ‘Ocean’ from a customer. Ocean Vuong is a practicing Zen Buddhist and is openly gay.

Genre: Ocean Vuong’s genre is writing novels, essays and poetry. Structural hallmarks of Ocean Vuong’s juxtaposition, skill with elision and sequencing of his poetry are seen in his writings in The New Yorker.

Literary Contributions: Burning (Sibling Rivalry Press) his first chapbook was a 2011 ‘Over The Rainbow’ selection for noteworthy books by the American Library Association on non-heterosexuality.

No (YesYes Books) was his second chapbook released in 2013. Night Sky Without Exit Wounds was his debut full-length collection released in 2016 by Copper Canyon Press. The publisher ran a second printing as on April that year.

Unique Stylistic Features: The Poetry Foundation has awarded him the 2014 Ruth Lilly/Sargent Rosenbery Fellowship. He has also been recipient of the 2016 Whiting Award and the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize for his poetry. Ocean Vuong has also received the MacArthur Fellowship and the Dylan Thomas Prize. In 2019 he also received a MacArthur Grant.

Ocean Vvong’s essays and poems have been published in a number of journals, including The Rumpus, Poetry, Guernica, The Nation, Boston Review, TriQuarterly, The New Republic, Narrative Magazine, The New York Times and The New Yorker.