Great works: Three episodes were compiled from writer Phan Tu's diaries. — File Photo
HA NOI — A compilation of war diaries and notes, entitled From Military Zone 5, was recently published by the Literature Publishing House.
The book is based on writer Phan Tu's experiences in Military Zone 5, which stretched from Quang Nam to Binh Dinh Province, during the period of 1962-75.
Content covers Tu's leaving the popularisation and training section of Military Zone 5 in order to enforce the liberation of the central province of Quang Nam until his return to Ha Noi.
Tu wrote his notes and diary entries while under fire, bombardment, hunger and in bad light, due to which his eyes eventually became seriously affected by myopia.
"Along with War Diary by Chu Cam Phong, Dang Thuy Tram's Diary and Twenty Forever by Nguyen Van Thac, From Military Zone 5 once again affirms the important role literature played in the country's liberation," Literature Publishing House director Nguyen Van Cu said.
In order to keep his material secret, Tu wrote hundreds of pages in French, Russian and Lao, eventual translation of which lasted five years (2005-10) with assistance from ten translators, according to Da Nang city Writers' Association vice president Le Anh Dung, one among four of the book's editors.
"Using dictionaries to translate out of date abbreviated words we managed to put together a great work, consistent in both writing style and concept," Dung said.
Tu's wife, Dinh Thi Phuong Thao, having preserved his diaries and notes, was sceptical about making them public (seeing) as her husband had wanted to keep them from public view, writing, "Secret – private notes of Phan Bon (a war alias), nobody is allowed to read", on the front cover.
After reading Tu's notes, his elder sister Le Thi Kinh realised their great literary value and decided to persuade her relatives to publish them. In spite of her old age, she also took part in translating his French notes.
Phan Tu (real name Le Kham) was born in Quang Nam's Que Son District in 1930. Infected by Agent Orange during his time spent in Military Zone 5, he suffered various diseases, including pencreatitis, diabetes and rheumatism, before passing away at the age of 65.
With works such as Beyond the Border, Mother Bay's Family and Countryman, Tu posthumously received the Ho Chi Minh Award for Literature and Arts in 2000 for his great contribution to modern Vietnamese literature. — VNS