Winner of the 2017 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection
An extraordinary debut from a young Vietnamese American, Night Sky with Exit Wounds is a book of poetry unlike any other. Steeped in war and cultural upheaval and wielding a fresh new language, Vuong writes about the most profound subjects – love and loss, conflict, grief, memory and desire – and attends to them all with lines that feel newly-minted, graceful in their cadences, passionate and hungry in their tender, close attention: ‘…the chief of police/facedown in a pool of Coca-Cola./A palm-sized photo of his father soaking/beside his left ear.’ This is an unusual, important book: both gentle and visceral, vulnerable and assured, and its blend of humanity and power make it one of the best first collections of poetry to come out of America in years.
‘These are poems of exquisite beauty, unashamed of romance, and undaunted by looking directly into the horrors of war, the silences of history. One of the most important debut collections for a generation.’ Andrew McMillan
Ocean Vuong was born in a rice farm outside Saigon in 1988. At the age of two, after a year in a refugee camp, he and his family arrived in the US. He is the first in his immediate family to learn how to read proficiently, at the age of eleven. With Ben Lerner as his mentor at Brooklyn College, he wrote the poems that would become this first collection. A Ruth Lilly fellow and winner of a Pushcart Prize, he has received honours and awards from Poets House and the Academy of American Poets. Night Sky with Exit Wounds won the 2016 Whiting Award. Ocean Vuong lives in New York.