|In the land of the enemy: The cover of O Dat Ke Thu.
HA NOI ((VNS) — O Dat Ke Thu, written by amateur writer Le Lan Anh, is the first Vietnamese novel to be published by L'Hamarttan, one of France's leading publishing houses.
A ceremony to release the book, the title of which means ‘In the land of the enemy', was held on Thursday in Ha Noi. It was attended by the French Ambassador to Viet Nam Jean Noel. There was an exchange of views on the book, which is based on famers' lives, between the author and the translator Nghiem Phong Tuan.
This is the debut novel of Anh, a middle-aged businesswoman. The novel was published in Viet Nam in 2007.
The 200-page novel is about the period of the American War in Viet Nam. Its three main characters are Bi, a farmer leader in a rural commune, Bi's 14-year-old daughter Na and Jim, a US pilot.
The story begins with Jim's plane being shot down by the Vietnamese army. He is injured and parachuted down. He is hunted and arrested in Bi's house by a group of militia and guerrillas for more than 20 hours, and is taken care of by Na.
The story describes the deep feeling and emotional relationship between the three characters, between them and the female soldiers as well as the local villagers, their lives before 1945, resumption of peace and the French and American wars.
Anh said she was deeply inspired by US senator John McCain, the "most expensive prisoner", who returned to Viet Nam as a mediator to normalise relations between the two countries, in writing the book.
Well-known writer Chu Lai said the novel surprised him because a woman writer like Anh had dared to write about the fierce war instead of a love story which would have been more attractive than a war book.
"I admire Anh for her bravery and passion in delving into the complicated and thorny topic which is very difficult to write and also very difficult to read," Lai said. — VNS