HomeHSC students bombard Ocean Vuong with messages after exam

HSC students bombard Ocean Vuong with messages after exam

An acclaimed author was bombarded with messages by HSC students and some parents after his ‘confusing’ text was used in an exam.

HSC students have bombarded an acclaimed Vietnamese-American author after his text left the teenagers bewildered

About 70,000 NSW High-schoolers were asked to interpret an excerpt from Ocean Vuong’s 2019 novel, ‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’ as part of their English assessment.

The book’s narrative is about a young Vietnamese boy growing up in America. It has a nonlinear plot, very expressive language and abstract ideas.

For a portion of the exam, students analysed a scene where the protagonist plucked grey hairs from his grandmother as she told him stories. Another extract used was about the character’s romantic relationship with an inanimate book.

In the hours after the text, students flooded Vuong’s Instagram and Twitter with messages.

“Ur text was something we had to write about in our major exams, but bro what the f*** was it about?” one said.

“BROOO FFFSSS FAM we gonna fail because of u now why did you make that text. Wat was it bout. Bro,” another added.

The 33-year-old was initially perplexed by the influx of messages but took the barrage in good humour.

“Yo, what the hell is and HSC exam and why are all of y‘all failing it?” he responded on his Instagram stories.

He was particularly surprised to be messaged by a student’s mother.

“Guys they got MOMS out here digging hard in my DMs (direct messages). Don’t y’all have spark notes in Australia,” he wrote.

However, the reviews of his text weren’t all bad.

“UR TEXT WAS GOOD BUT SO CONFUSING,” one student messaged Vuoung.

The accomplished author has won multiple awards for his writing, winning the 2016 Whiting Award, the 2017 T.S. Eliot prize and a MacArthur Grant in 2019.

The HSC marks the near end of the school year for NSW senior students, who have dealt with 18-months of interruptions to their classes due to the Covid pandemic.


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