Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Three books by Tô Hoài, winner of the Hồ Chí Minh Prize for Literature in 2006, have been reprinted by two leading publishers in HCM City to celebrate the writer’s second death anniversary.
His memoir Cỏ Dại (Wild Grass), first published in 1944, featured the writer’s childhood in Hà Nội and his thoughts about friendship, love and life.
His other publications are Những Gương Mặt (The Faces) and Sổ Tay Viết Văn (Writer’s Notebook).
Những Gương Mặt was first published in 1995, featuring the life and career of 12 veteran writers who played a role in advancing contemporary literature, including Huy Tưởng, Nguyên Hồng, Vũ Bằng, Võ Huy Tâm, Nguyễn Bính, and Vũ Ngọc Phan.
Sổ Tay Viết Văn describes Tô Hoài’s writing career. It is valuable for literary and historical lecturers and researchers, as well as for students from universities and institutes.
The three books have been reprinted by the Phương Nam Book and Literature Publishing House.
Tô Hoài was born Nguyễn Sen into a craftsmen’s family in Thanh Oai District of Hà Đông Province (now Hà Nội) in 1920. He spent most of his childhood in his mother’s native village, now Nghĩa Đô Ward in Cầu Giấy District. He held various jobs before beginning to write in the 1940s
Tô Hoài is well-known for several works, including Dế Mèn Phiêu Lưu Ký (Adventures of a Cricket) in 1941, O Chuột (Hunting Mice) in 1942, Nhà Nghèo (Poor Family) in 1944, Truyện Tây Bắc (Stories of the Northwestern Region) in 1953, and Ba NgườiKhác (Three Others) in 2006.
His Dế Mèn Phiêu Lưu Ký has been reprinted several times, attracting millions of children for years.
He has written more than 100 works of different genres, from short stories, multi-series long stories, memoirs, novels, film scripts, essays and commentaries.
The writer, whose pennames also included Mắt Biển, Thái Yên, Mai Trang, and Phạm Hòa, died in 2014 in Hà Nội.
Adventures of a cricket
Hoài wrote the first version of Dế Mèn Phiêu Lưu Ký in 1941 when he was 18. One year later, it was released after the author created more fictional characters.
The 195-page children’s book is about the adventures of a cricket who leaves his nest to travel and discovers the world.
He improves by learning new things and experiences with the help of many insects and animals.
The cricket and his adventures have captured the imaginations of different generations of readers, particularly children, and is one of the country’s most famous books for children.
Since 1986, extracts from the book have been used in textbooks for secondary school students.
Tô Hoài told local media that when he was a boy he often played with his friends near the Tô Lịch River.
“One day I saw a cricket who told me about his adventures, so I decided to tell his stories to my young readers,” he said.
Dế Mèn Phiêu Lưu Ký has been printed in 37 languages, such as English, French, Thai and Russian. It is popular in many countries.
Each new edition with new illustrations and interpretations allow the cricket and his friends to become close to readers.
In Thailand, the book is sold with a plastic figurine of a cricket as a gift for children and one was sent by the publisher to the author.
In Germany, it was published with a notebook with characters in the story such as crickets, grasshoppers and mantis.
The book’s latest 143-page version in English, Diary of a Cricket, published by Kim Đồng Publishing House, is available at online bookstores.
"I read Dế Mèn Phiêu Lưu Ký when I was eight years old. The book encourages children to try new paths and works, and discover the world rather than stay home," said Đỗ Kim Thoa, a reader and mother of an 11-year-old daughter in HCM City.
"At the age of 74, our cricket is still young. He is the close friend of me and my daughter and many Vietnamese children forever," she added.
Last year, a bookshop named “The Cricket’s Shop”, operated by Tô Hoài’s children at his house in Cầu Giấy District in Hà Nội, opened and attracted many children every weekend.
The shop offers Tô Hoài’s books and many literary publications for children by foreign and Vietnamese writers.
“We hope the shop will become a familiar place for Tô Hoài’s fans,” Nguyễn Thị Cúc, the author’s wife, said. — VNS