6 Books Ocean Vuong is Currently Reading

Updated: Mar 21

In a recent Instagram Q&A, the T.S. Eliot Award-winning poet and novelist (The Night Sky With Exit Wounds, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous) shared books he is currently reading and keeping close by.


Picture source: The New York Times


Deborah Levy's HOT MILK


In Levy's coming-of-age novel, Sofia, a young anthropologist, travels to a small village on the Spanish coast with her mother, Rose, to find a cure from the controversial Dr. Gomez for Rose's strange and unexplainable illness. Levy's 2016 publication is suffused with the compulsive and hypnotic exploration of womanhood and female sexuality.


Hardcover, 218 pages. Published on July 12th 2016 by Bloomsbury USA


Kazuo Ishiguro's THE REMAINS OF THE DAY


The Booker Prize-winning 1989 novel is narrated through the lens of Stevens, a butler at Darlington Hall who falls in love with Miss Keaton, the housekeeper. When Stevens makes a trip back to meet Miss Keaton, his six-day journey becomes a trip to his past and of England in the face of two world wars.


Paperback, 258 pages. Published on 2005 by Faber & Faber (first published in 1989).


Ernest J. Gaines's A LESSON BEFORE DYING


Set in a small Cajun community in the 1940s, Gaines's compassionate and profoundly moving tale revolves around Jefferson, a Black youth on death row for a crime he didn't commit, and Grant, a young man who visits Jefferson in jail to impart his learning. The two men arrive at understanding the simple heroism of resisting.


Paperback, 256 pages. Published on September 28th 1997 by Vintage.


Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche's TURNING CONFUSION INTO CLARITY


Rinpoche's book is for anyone interested in learning about the tenants of Buddhism. The book offers guidance on approaching specific meditation and contemplation techniques and is a thorough commentary to committing to the Buddhist path.


Paperback, 416 pages. Published on July 8th 2014 by Snow Lion.


James Agee's A DEATH IN THE FAMILY


First published in 1957, A Death in the Family is an autobiographical novel depicting visceral layers of loss and grief. Jay Follet dies in a car accident when hurrying back home to Knoxville, Tennessee-- a tragedy that unravels a young family. The novel gives a glimpse into the devastating grief of Follet's kins left behind.


Paperback, 320 pages. Published on July 28th 1998 by Vintage (first published 1957).


Haruki Murakami's KAFKA ON THE SHORE


After his father's dark prophecy, fifteen-year-old Kafka runs away from home looking for his long-missing mother and sister. The aging Nakata, riddled with his wartime afflictions, finds himself drawn to Kafka for reasons beyond himself. In this engrossing metaphysical reality, two unlikely characters contend with their fate on their quest for answers.


Paperback, 467 pages. First published in 2002.



Vuong's much-anticipated next, Time is a Mother, is expected to release on April 5, 2022.

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