Vietnamese writers abroad breathe new life into homeland literature

Literary works by Vietnamese writers abroad have started to gain traction in their motherland for the past 10 years, with the most recent addition being the novel Nhung nguoi tham lang (Quiet as they come) by Angie Chau. 

Works by immigrant writers recently introduced in Vietnam

Works by immigrant writers recently introduced in Vietnam

The novel consists of 11 short stories from the perspectives of different people on the life of a Vietnamese immigrant family, highlighting conflicts between parents and children and the clash of Vietnamese and American culture.

Many immigrant Vietnamese writers in the past have been awarded the coveted Pulitzer prize, including Viet Thanh Nguyen with his debut novel The Sympathizer.

Later on, Ocean Vuong’s poem collection Night Sky With Exit Wounds won the T.S. Eliot prize in 2017 and got published in Vietnam in 2018.

More notably, Vietnamese readers have become familiarized with writers such as Thuan (based in France), Le Minh Ha (Germany), or Linda Le (France) when most of their works were introduced in bookstores nation-wide. 

 “Depending on the writing styles and languages used in various works, immigrant writers offer a glimpse into overseas Vietnamese communities through hidden aspects not often depicted on the mass media,” said Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Le Hoa Tranh of the HCMC University of Social Sciences and Humanities.

She added that such literary works, though fascinating and distinctive in both content and style, have yet to show a general depiction of Vietnamese literature abroad, but is something really worth looking forward to.

The Vietnam Writers Association in October 2017 held the first writer conference with the participation of more than 100 prominent writers both in and outside of Vietnam, aiming to connect immigrant writers with the Association and help bring their works closer to readers in their motherland.

By Ho Son – Translated by Tan Nghia

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