Interviewing Ocean Vuong for the Seattle Public Library

Listen to the interview here

Read the transcript here

Excerpt of interview

Jess: Reading this book for me was such a sensory experience. I felt like when I read it, I read it with my whole body. There were parts of it that felt like home, that smelt like home, that sounded like home.  I saw you posted a Spotify playlist that was kind of the playlist the soundtrack of you writing this, and I was wondering what foods and scents you were surrounded by as you manifested this

Ocean: Oh Lord, I work whenever I can, and I work at night so often I. I wrote a lot of this book in New York and some of it in New England. And it’s usually just the smell of dew and wood fire coming through the window. But I think I went back to to all the sensory details and the richness of Connecticut and the tobacco farm that I worked on, the barns, the Vietnamese kitchen which is its own world. And the sounds and the textures. I wanted the book to have an embodied sense of knowledge, because for so many of us immigrants and refugees, when your tongue is gone, when English is not available to you, you have to learn other languages – the language of the body, the language of vigilance, and I was taught by these women to look at the world and read the world with not only words, but the way people move, to understand how people look at you, to understand it, to make my way through sense and sound to understand the tone.

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