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Night Sky with Exit Wounds (Paperback)
  • Night Sky with Exit Wounds (Paperback)

Night Sky with Exit Wounds (Paperback)

Paperback 96 Pages / Published: 04/04/2017
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Described by Viet Thanh Nguyen as the “Walt Whitman of Vietnamese American literature”, Ocean Vuong’s debut collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds is a profound investigation of the refugee experience and three generations of conflict in a land annihilated by the forces of war.

Remarkably, Vuong was the first member of his family to gain literacy, arriving to the United States as a Vietnamese refugee as a 2-year-old child. The poems included talk not just of the legacies of violence and cultural displacement but of a world brimming with hope and wonder. As the New Yorker recorded, “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.”

Untitled (Blue, Green, and Brown): oil on canvas: Mark Rothko: 1952

The TV said the planes have hit the buildings. 
& I said Yes because you asked me 
to stay. Maybe we pray on our knees because god 
only listens when we’re this close 
to the devil. There is so much I want to tell you. 
How my greatest accolade was to walk 
across the Brooklyn Bridge 
& not think of flight. How we live like water: wetting 
a new tongue with no telling 
what we’ve been through. They say the sky is blue 
but I know it’s black seen through too much distance. 
You will always remember what you were doing 
when it hurts the most. There is so much 
I need to tell you – but I only earned 
one life. & I took nothing. Nothing. Like a pair of teeth 
at the end. The TV kept saying The planes… 
The planes...& I stood waiting in the room 
made of broken mockingbirds. Their wings throbbing 
into four blurred walls. & you were there. 
You were the window.

Winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry 2017

Winner of the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2017

Publisher: Vintage Publishing
ISBN: 9781911214519
Number of pages: 96
Weight: 115 g
Dimensions: 197 x 129 x 9 mm


'Night Sky With Exit Wounds... startled me with its urgency and its relevance. A eerily sure-footed debut.' - Rupert Thomson, The Observer, Books of the Year

'Vuong writes with a piercing, dreamlike clarity.' - Tristram Fane Saunders, Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year

'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.' - The New Yorker

'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.' - Kate Kellaway, The Observer

'There is a powerful emotional undertow to these poems that springs from Mr Vuong's sincerity and candour, and from his ability to capture specific moments in rime with photographic clarity and a sense of the evanescence of all earthly things.' - Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

'Ocean Vuong is the Walt Whitman of Vietnamese American literature. Lyrical, expansive, sexual, provocative, he sings of the Vietnamese body and of Vietnamese history.' - Viet Thanh Nguyen

'The operatic voice of the book is vulnerable and unpredictable. Some of its strongest poems are also the strangest... It is an impressive, uneven, moving book about painful and important subjects - and is the work of a young poet who might, excitingly, say anything next.' - Jeremy Noel-Tod, The Sunday Times

'Many of the poems in this, Vuong's debut collection, achieve lift-off amid comparable scenes of drama and desperation... This is a book full of promise.' - David Wheatley, The Literary Review

'Vuong writes in what may be one of the most unfashionable modes of recent decades, in the richly meditative style of Rainer Maria Rilke. And, almost unbelievably, he does so successfully... Vuong's roomy, cool, risky poems are more than promising, and this is an exciting and compelling book.' - John McAuliffe, The Irish Times

'Taking war and cultural upheaval in its stride, Night Sky with Exit Wounds is an assured but open debut collection. It's accessible to non-poetry readers while offering sufficient depth to keep the experts engaged.' - Aimee Grant Cumberbatch, The Evening Standard

'If you only read one new book of poetry this year, make it Ocean Vuong's game-changing debut collection. Night Sky With Exit Wounds is breathtakingly beautiful, gut-wrenching and sublime... Phenomenal.' - Attitude

'His style is not unlike a wall of sounds, a relatively consistent, arrestedly pubescent palette of desire and obsession, turned up high enough to hit the pulse.' - Declan Ryan, The Times Literary Supplement

'From its opening lines...the book brims with precise, surreal, erotic imagery... Vuong authoritatively lays claim to a range of symbols and tropes... Vuong possesses a large and unusual imagination... Night Sky with Exit Wounds is a remarkable debut. Where Vuong is headed is anyone's guess, but you'll want to go with him.' - Paul Batchelor, New Statesman

'Vuong's intimate lyrical voice, his precise, stark imagery and engagement with gay sexuality construct a familiar story of loss... Balancing memory and silence with erudition, Vuong's poetry resists being so easily pinned down... Vuong's poems, written with intelligence and tenderness, offer new spaces for becoming.' - Sandeep Parmar, The Guardian

'His debut collection, Night Sky With Exit Wounds, is the work of a man with history on his back, even if he has had to imagine some of it into being again. He brings a mythmaker's insistence on being seen and heard to subjects ranging from the death of Telemachus's father, from Homeric myth, to the fall of Saigon and common-or-garden masturbation.' - Claire Armistead, The Guardian 

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