Winner of the 2017 T. S. Eliot Prize
‘Reading Vuong is like watching a fish move: he manages the varied currents of English with muscled intuition.’ New Yorker
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
Winner of the 2017 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection
A Guardian / Daily Telegraph Book of the Year
PBS Summer Recommendation
Night Sky With Exit Wounds…startled me with its urgency and its relevance. A eerily sure-footed debut.
Vuong writes with a piercing, dreamlike clarity.
Reading Vuong is like watching a fish move: he manages the varied currents of English with muscled intuition … His lines are both long and short, his pose narrative and lyric, his diction formal and insouciant. From the outside, Vuong has fashioned a poetry of inclusion.
Ocean Vuong is one of my auto-buy authors. I keep recommending his Night Sky With Exit Wounds to everyone; I can’t shout loud enough about it… I have quite a complicated relationship with what’s considered "classical poetry" but then someone like Ocean Vuong comes along, and he’s doing something so exciting that you can’t help but get caught up in it.
The poetry is a conduit for a life in which violence and delicacy collide… I like the fragility, resilience and the sense that the stories that need telling are hardest to tell – a difficulty Ocean Vuong is courageously minded to overcome.
Poet Ocean Vuong's debut novel is a sweeping and shattering portrait of a family, and a testament to the redemptive power of storytelling. Read an extract from one of the most anticipated books of 2019 ahead of its publication in June.