Viet Nam News
Annual prizes by the Việt Nam Literature & Art Association were presented to 65 of its members early this month in Hà Nội. The awards review and evaluate the performance of artists over the year.
Writer Ngô Thảo, former deputy-chairman of the Việt Nam Stage Artists Association spoke about the award.
The annual awards from the Literature and Art Association honour the dedication and creative efforts of authors and artists. Do you care about the awards?
Myself and other artists are not interested in this award because the prize is not worth the effort we put in. A novel we spend 5 years working on, with 1,000 copies printed, wins just VNĐ5 million or VNĐ10 million. It is not adequate.
For the Nobel Prize in Literature, it’s a US$1 million-prize. Of course there are only a few people in the world to receive the Nobel Prize. I want to emphasise that the value of the award must be commensurate with the effort the authors and the artists have put in. There are many literary awards, although there isn’t a high material value, if the author has won this award, his work will be printed in large numbers. Their name will be known not only in their homeland but also in other countries.
It is not only an honour for a writer but it also helps them survive.
Do you think the Literature and Art Association award is still important?
With reading culture declining, writers and poets face many difficulties. The award is given every year. But are there any writers that become famous thanks to the annual Việt Nam Writers’ Association?
I’m sure that even after winning the prize, the work struggle to attract attention. The civil servants and officials I know don’t read much. Young people just like to read comics and love stories. Mainstream novels are not popular anymore.
It is bitter to hear, but it is true that our country spends too little on art. We spend several trillion đồng hosting the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. To develop an athlete, we invest a lot on training. We never spend anything to train an artist.
Why do you think artists are turning their backs on the awards?
The annual award is to recognise the contributions of the authors to domestic literature and art development over the years. However, the role of literature and art also changes over time. I think literature and art plays a great role in social life.
Art-house movies are not seen by many people, a thousand copies of good novel and a few hundred poems are printed. Whilst we have nearly 100 million people both at home and abroad. Therefore, these awards should not be overestimated. — VNS