Expert explores the state of Vietnamese literature
  • | VietnamNet, dtinews | April 25, 2014 09:18 PM

Dr. Do Lai Thuy, a literary critic, gave his opinions about the reading culture in Vietnam, and why book sales are better in the South than in the North.

According to Dr. Thuy, the number of readers in HCM City is higher than that of Hanoi. In HCM City, one often sees cyclo drivers and street vendors reading books while waiting for customers.


Dr. Do Lai Thuy 

Thuy added that one reason for this is that the people of HCM City were affected to a greater extent by the democratic influences of French rule, while those in the North kept the stamp of the Nguyen Dynasty. This, he said, has led to a situation in which southern people are more literary, while their northern counterparts prefer politics.

Positive signs for reading culture

Dr. Thuy said that Vietnamese society is divided into different groups with different tastes in literature, and that the criteria for one should not be used for another. While in the past Vietnamese literature was fairly homogeneous, it has since become disparate.

“I think that the modern literary culture is very diverse, and represents different groups of people. Among those, there is a group of people who are interested in reading books considered difficult, particularly young people working in the areas of natural sciences and IT. This is a good signal,” he added.

Dr. Thuy noted that it is not proper to assess the national reading culture only based on book sales.

Other challenges facing Vietnamese literature

Book lovers visited a recent Book Fair in HCM City

“In my opinion, readers should not believe in everything they read in mass media, but must take it with a grain of salt. Also, those working in communications have to be responsible for what they publish,” said Dr. Thuy, pointing out trend towards blurring the lines between information distribution and PR.

He also said Vietnam is in need of knowledgeable critics who are able to act as ambassadors for valuable works. Today, he said, the country lacks such figures, as most literary critics advocate books based on their own tastes instead of their literary merits. 

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