Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Writer Bảo Ninh, who penned Nỗi Buồn Chiến Tranh (The Sorrow of War), will receive a noble literary award in South Korea on September 2.
The Sim Hun Literary Award is given to Asian writers who have shown great interest in peace and justice through their literary works. The candidates must have at least 10 years of literary experience and have published a major work within the last three years. The award is named after Sim Hun or Sim Dae-seop (1901-1936) a Korean patriotic novelist, poet and playwright.
It started in 2014 with the first award going to Jo Jung-rae, the author of popular history saga Taebaek Mountain Range; and Ko Un, a poet who has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature for many times.
The award, which is worth 20 million won (US$19,500) in cash, is jointly organised by the Asia Culture Network, founded in 2005, with the aim to research Asian culture and create an exchange between cultural activists in the region.
The Asia Publishers, which comes under the network, has published many works by Asian authors including The Sorrow of War by Bảo Ninh and Cánh Đồng Bất Tận (The Floating Lives) by Nguyễn Ngọc Tư.
Ninh whose real name is Hoàng Ấu Phương, was born in 1952. He is a novelist, essayist and writer of short stories, best known for his first novel The Sorrow of War.
During the anti-American War, he served in the 27th Youth Volunteer Brigade. Of the five hundred who went to war with the brigade in 1969, he is one of ten who survived.
World famous: The Sorrow of War written by Bảo Ninh. — Photo indenpendent.co.uk
In his novel, he provides a strikingly honest look at how the war forever changed his life, his country, and the people who live there. Originally published against government wishes in Viêt Nam because of its non-ideological tone, The Sorrow of War has won worldwide acclaim and become a bestseller
It has been translated and published in 18 countries worldwide.
The novel has brought fame for writer Bảo Ninh. He confessed that after it, he hasn’t been able to match the level of The Sorrow of War.
“I compare everything I write to everything I wrote in the past, and it’s not natural like it was before,” he said.
Ninh now writes short stories and essays rather than novels. After The Sorrow of War, he became famous, so people know about him and other writers respect him.
When Ninh wrote the book, 15 years after the war ended, the emotions of the war among Vietnamese people, and the relationship between the US and Việt Nam was different than it is now.
Last year, Frank Palmos, the Australian war correspondent during the war in Viet Nam and translated the book into English, visited Hà Nội. Now a historian and teaching The Sorrow of War at universities in Australia, Palmos met with Bảo Ninh. They continued talking about the novel after nearly 20 years apart.
Ninh told Palmos that the novel reflected sad stories of the past. It’s time to stop being haunted by it and think of the future. — VNS