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Writer offers critique of modern Vietnamese literature
  • By Hien Huong | | February 07, 2014 07:25 AM
 >>  Critic finds young Vietnamese writers found wanting

Writer Nguyen Thi Thu Hue said that many modern Vietnamese writers are so consumed by the everyday worries of life that they fail to create meaningful works.

It is said that this is the era of the romantic novel, which has attracted many young readers, especially those born in the 90's. At the same time, other literary works fall by the wayside. Do you think that modern Vietnamese writers are to blame for this?

I think it’s difficult to give a detailed explanation to the issues you’ve mentioned. The 9X generation is interested in reading books about love. Everyone has their own interests and it’s impossible to impose one’s taste upon another.


Writer Nguyen Thi Thu Hue

There have been several questions posed to Vietnamese writers concerning the reason why the country now lacks quality literary works. In my opinion, I think that many modern Vietnamese writers still lack writing and literary skills. Some famous Vietnamese writers in the 20 century like Ma Van Khang, To Hoai, Nguyen Khac Truong and Nguyen Ngoc were polyhistors who possessed both profound real-life experience and well-honed writing skills.

Currently, Vietnam has a plethora of writers and the Vietnam Writers’ Association encompasses nearly 1,000 members. Few of them, however, possess adequate writing skills while many others write only according to instinct and passion. Many books are widely published but most of them are unimpressive.

It seems that the proverb “Circumstances alter cases” applies literature. During the times when writers were among victims of unfairness and poverty, several talents shined, including satirical writer Vu Trong Phung and realistic writer Nam Cao. Is it true that there is nothing better than suffering to make a good writer?

As far as I know some writers are still enthusiastic about literature, but not many. It’s really hard to have talented writers like Vu Trong Phung, Nguyen Cong Hoan and Nam Cao. Very few writers have the potential to continue this tradition.

Many writers in Vietnam now can’t live only from writing. While authors in other parts of the world have the chance to focus on their craft and to nurture their talents because they have large publishing houses behind them who give them advances and take care of marketing and other details; Vietnamese writers have to do all those thing on their own. They are too busy with the many things that take up their daily lives and don’t have a chance to create their own creative spaces.

Those who lived during the time of subsidies had miserable lives but didn’t have to deal with as many burdens as modern writers face.

Do you mean that modern Vietnamese writers don’t write great works because they are too busy with daily life concerns? It seems that famous writers in the previous times also had their own difficulties. Do you think that modern authors are still light-hearted about life and not devoted enough to writing?

Each writer has their own way. Many books have yet to be published because of certain difficulties. I think that many writers now are not peremptory enough in their writing. Many writers are deeply concerned about issues in the life, but some of them have opted to show their viewpoint by writing on a blog or Facebook, so they don’t create literary work.

After all, we are still at a lack for talented writers, are we not?

I don't think that is true. Many Vietnamese writers are talented, but they can’t all show it in their works due to circumstances.

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