Writing helps overseas Vietnamese honour her homeland

February 22, 2023 - 08:54
Quyên also won Dế Mèn Awards from Thể Thao Văn Hóa (Sports and Culture) newspaper for her books, an award that honours the best works by and for children.
Cultural and literary expert Phạm Thanh Quyên.

Phạm Thị Thanh Quyên is among the writers honoured at the National External Information Service Awards 2022. Living in Besançon, France, Quyên works as a cultural and heritage expert at the Pierre Bayle Library.

Quyên also won Dế Mèn Awards from Thể Thao Văn Hóa (Sports and Culture) newspaper for her books, an award that honours the best works by and for children.

Quyên speaks with Việt Nam News reporter Nguyễn Bình about her work.

Could you tell me about your award-winning work about President Hồ Chí Minh's time in France?

Working in culture and heritage preservation, I had the opportunity to come into contact with many documents about President Hồ Chí Minh. I pay strong attention to documents about Việt Nam because it is my hometown.

I also read rare documents about Indochina and Việt Nam for my thesis. I intended to use the historical document kept outside Việt Nam.

When I started exploiting this files about President Hồ Chí Minh in France, I knew it was not new and that many people had already exploited the topic. However, it was not without difficulties and challenges.

I am a heritage expert, so I want to make clear some details in the files.

Do you engage in Vietnamese heritage preservation projects? What interests you about heritage preservation in Việt Nam?

After researching President Hồ Chí Minh, I intended to continue introducing people about Vietnamese culture, history, economy and politics during the French colonial period.

My work has helped me to keep in contact with a small community of heritage preservers in Việt Nam. Thanks to them, I know Việt Nam is gradually paying attention to and promoting heritage preservation, including intangible heritage preservation.

One of the results is the Then practice of Tày, Nùng and Thái ethnic groups recognised as Intangible Cultural Heritages of Humanity by UNESCO.

This recognition not only helps Then to be preserved but also provides an opportunity to promote the beauty of Vietnamese community culture to the world.

For heritage makers, these results are thanks to hard work. Everyone knows that in addition to the challenges of time, human impacts are also the biggest concern, and that is not only the story of Việt Nam but also the world.

Take, for example, the complete disappearance of the Palmyra heritage. It has become a major symbol of the human impact on heritage.

Could you tell me about your current work?

Besides my work at the library, I have been participating in reading and social culture popularising projects for young people in France. It is an interesting work because it gives me a broader perspective on how to help young people have more passion for history.

Culture and history is my passion. I think that no one can exist without a past. The past is the driving force that helps us see and orient our future.

Luckily, I have travelled extensively and participated in social and cultural activities. I am very keen on the cultural and historical factors of the lands where I have visited. I want to live in harmony with the people and the lands.

I also want people to share historical and cultural stories to develop together.

Last year, you won Dế Mèn Awards for your children's books. How did you come to writing?

Partly, it is from my passion for my work and partly from my love of writing.

The Dế Mèn Awards last year were for my books Biệt Đội Thám Tử (Detective Team) and Emma Thảm Họa (Disaster Emma). I was surprised to receive the awards. The books are about small stories that I have experienced.

I wrote these two books to give children a pleasant and happy reading time. Through witty and funny stories, I want to help them build up their dreams and enrich their daily life knowledge.

I have several other books for children and adult readers. Literature is a bridge helping me return to my homeland and introduce the Vietnamese image to international friends.

What is your next book?

This year, I will work with Kim Đồng Publishing House to print two books for teens and a book series for children. HCM City General Publishing House will distribute my long story for teenagers.

Plus, I have a collection of three-dimension and Kamishiba books – a kind of picture card storytelling that some publishing houses are interested in.

With the diversity in writing and form of books, I want to contribute to changing the approach to childhood through books, helping them have more interest in reading and using books as the most effective means of education. — VNS