Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — The Trẻ Publishing House has published Tranh Van Gogh mua để đốt (Buying and Burning Van Gogh), a new novel by Hồ Anh Thái.
The 324-page novel, displayed at the 10th HCM City Book Fair, which concluded yesterday, tells the story of one of Van Gogh’s works and the international community of people who came to love it.
The story starts with a Japanese billionaire, who buys the painting for the exorbitant price of US$82.5 million. He has an eccentric desire that the work should be burnt after his death.
The painting is then bought by a Vietnamese businessman, who pledges to save the painting, for double the price. He is successful in preserving it. But one day an unexpected circumstance compels him to decide to burn the picture.
Fortunately, a brave journalist finds out about the painting and is determined to save it.
The novel also has a special character — a girl who always gets a headache whenever she sees letters. She never reads books but can read empty blank pages. When she paints, her paintings are in white.
The novel, which creates a colourful picture of modern society, also contains a secret ironical writing style hiding in every word and paragraph.
The writer said his idea of writing the novel originated from observing the country’s contemporary society.
“One day, I suddenly found the need to laugh at all of what happening in front of my eyes and wanted to make everyone laugh with me,” Thái told Việt Nam News.
Thái said that behind life and its events, there are hidden aspects that cannot be told. One of the writers’ tasks is to unravel these mysteries.
According to the writer, the secret that he wanted to reveal may be found in the aspect of the story that centers on the Vietnamese businessman, who is the director of a corporation.
In the novel, Thái said, the mystery is why the boss, a corporate tycoon, decides to burn Van Gogh’s painting, which he has bought for $165 million. The decision involves him preparing to enter a political stage.
“And the reader should read the book himself or herself to find their own reasons,” said the writer. — VNS