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L.A. Times Book Club’s next read is Ocean Vuong’s ‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’

Book jackets for, from left, “One Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” by Ocean Vuong; “From Our Land to Our Land: Imaginings & Musings of Native Xicanx Writer” by Luis J. Rodriguez; and “American Dirt” by Jeanine Cummins.
(Penguin Press / Seven Stories Press / Flatiron Books)

The Los Angeles Times Book Club will kick off the new year with the novel “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” and a conversation with bestselling author Ocean Vuong.

Vuong’s acclaimed debut novel takes the form of a letter from a son to his mother. The narrator is a Vietnamese American writer in his late 20s who talks about their family history, about war and violence, and about love and loss.

Each month, we select a book and invite all of Los Angeles to read along. Then, we hold a community forum with the author. Novelist and poet Vuong will join book club readers Jan. 27 to discuss On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” at the Montalban Theatre in Hollywood. Get tickets.

“The novel is expansive and introspective, fragmented and dreamlike,” writes author Steph Cha in a Times review, “a coming of age tale conveyed in images and anecdotes and explorations.”

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Author Susan Orlean calls it “a triumph of exquisite writing.”

The book club’s February selection is Luis J. Rodriguez’s “From Our Land to Our Land,” an upcoming collection of stories and essays about race, culture, identity, and belonging. Rodriguez, whose previous books include the bestselling memoir, “Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A,” served as Los Angeles poet laureate from 2014 to 2016. He joins book club readers Feb. 20.

“Like millions of Americans, I’m demanding a new vision, a qualitatively different direction, for this country,” Rodriguez says in the preface of his new book. “One for the shared well-being of everyone. One with beauty, healing, poetry, imagination, and truth.”

The book club’s March selection is “American Dirt,” a fast-paced novel by Jeanine Cummins. It’s the story of an Acapulco bookstore owner who tries to cross the U.S. border with her young son after a drug cartel guns down her family.

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The novel will be published Jan. 21 and has earned early praise from literary heavyweights Sandra Cisneros, Don Winslow, Stephen King, Ann Patchett and John Grisham. Imperative Entertainment has acquired film rights to “American Dirt” for a project produced by Dan Friedkin and Bradley Thomas and written by Charles Leavitt, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Here’s an excerpt.

Cummins, the author of “A Rip in Heaven” and two previous novels, joins the book club March 11.

The L.A. Times Book Club debuted in 2019 and has welcomed such authors as National Book Award finalist Laila Lalami (“The Other Americans”), Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ronan Farrow (“Catch and Kill”) and actress Julie Andrews (“Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years”) to share their books in monthly conversations with Times readers.

Ticket information will be coming soon for February and March book club talks. Sign up for the L.A. Times Book Club newsletter for updates and upcoming events: latimes.com/bookclub.


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