Vietnamese-American author's debut novel won the Best Book award of 2022

September, 21/2022 - 09:36
Taking the form of a letter, the novel is told from the perspective of a young Vietnamese American named Little Dog, whose experiences are very similar to those of Vuong's. The letter is addressed to Little Dog's mother, Hồng, who is illiterate.
The Vietnamese edition of 'On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous'. Photo courtesy of Nhã Nam Publishing House

HCM CITY — After winning the IRED Education Institute's Best Book award in Literature, Ocean Vuong's best-selling novel On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous received widespread recognition.

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, with the Vietnamese title of Một thoáng ta rực rỡ ở nhân gian is the debut book of Vietnamese-American poet Ocean Vuong, released in 2019 by Penguin Press.

Taking the form of a letter, the novel is told from the perspective of a young Vietnamese American named Little Dog, whose experiences are very similar to those of Vuong's. The letter is addressed to Little Dog's mother, Hồng, who is illiterate.

It also tells the story of Little Dog's grandmother, Lan, who escapes an arranged marriage during the Việt Nam War and becomes a prostitute. Later, she marries a white American soldier and gives birth to a child, but the child's biological father is actually someone else.

Prior to being honoured in Việt Nam, the novel received numerous accolades in the US. The Washington Post rated it one of the ten best books of 2019.

In addition, it has been shortlisted for the 2020 PEN/Faulkner Prize for Fiction and the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction.

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous was made available to Vietnamese readers at the end of 2021 and was met with a positive reception. In a letter to the publisher in Việt Nam, Vuong expressed pride and excitement that the book will be republished in Vietnamese, the language closest to his conception of "home".

Also awarded in the Literature category, Những ngã tư và những cột đèn (Crossroads and Lampposts) by Trần Dần was praised by both readers and specialists.

This mystery novel follows Dưỡng, a puppet soldier who was able to escape from jail by hiding in the basement. He got swept up in the chaos that ensued after the day Hà Nội was taken over. Dưỡng is a detective in two types of ways: he is investigating the events of his life and he is a victim.

Trần Dần's book 'Những ngã tư và những cột đèn' received glowing reviews from the literary community. Photo courtesy of Nhã Nam Publishing House

Dần completed the manuscript in 1966. However, it was rejected by numerous publishers.

In his final days, Dần completed the transcription and editing of the piece. As of early 1990, the final draft was finished. It was published in 2011 and won the Hà Nội Writers Association Prize the same year.

At the end of 2018, IWBooks Publishing House brought the book to readers in South Korea with a translation.

This novel was given a redesign and released earlier this year by the Nhã Nam Publishing House.

A representative for the IRED Education Institute's Best Book award noted that as 2022 mark the award's 11th season, the books chosen for recognition all have distinct messages and values.

The award is the first reader-nominated and expert-voted independent book award in Việt Nam. For over a decade, it has been a spectacular cultural event, providing more avenues for the public to access important books, inspiring new ideas, and empowering readers to reach their full potential. VNS

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