Cover of the book Quán Thủy Thần (God of Water), a bestseller about rural living, by female writer Nguyễn Hải Yến. — Photo courtesy of the publisher
By Thu Anh
HCM CITY Vietnamese farmers have been inspired by young writers who have chosen to focus on rural life in their recent works.
Đàn Ông Ở Làng (Men in Village) and Kiếp Người Trôi Ngược (Hard Life) by writers Trần Hồng Giang and Phan Đức Lộc are published by Hồng Đức and Thanh Niên, two of the country's leading private publishing houses.
Several thousand copies of the books sold online within two weeks after their release in HCM City last year.
The two books are about the challenges of farmers living in northern provinces who work hard to improve their knowledge and skills.
Writers Giang and Lộc capture lively young farmers and their lifestyle with simple but meaningful prose that has impressed both young and older readers, who were surprised to discover the writers are urban residents.
“I thought all the people were from the countryside. I love reading about rural living; it improves my knowledge and soul,” Nguyễn Thảo Nhi, a second-year student at the HCM City University of Law, said.
One of Nhi’s favourite books is Cánh Đồng Bất Tận (Endless Fields) by female writer Nguyễn Ngọc Tư, a resident of Cà Mau Province. The book portrays the culture and lifestyle of southern farmers. The vast forests and fields are also featured.
Cánh Đồng Bất Tận became a bestseller within hours of being displayed in HCM City bookshops in 2005. Published by the Trẻ (Youth) Publishing House, nearly 2,000 copies of the story sold within two days after its release.
The book won the Southeast Asian Writers Awards from the Thai Royal Family in 2008. The prize aims to encourage and honour poets and writers in the ASEAN region.
The Việt Nam Writers Association selected the book for its event's award competition, with the aim of introducing a slice of Việt Nam’s contemporary literature.
The book is still fresh today and has been republished several times.
Female writer Nguyễn Hải Yến’s Quán Thủy Thần (God of Water) is another bestselling book about rural living.
The collection of 10 short stories was honoured at the Việt Nam Writers’ Association Awards 2019. It highlights the characters of Vietnamese farmers.
“Young writer Yến made her fame just after the release of her first book, Quán Thủy Thần, in praise of the beauty of the farmers’ lifestyle,” said reader Đỗ Kim Thoa of Hà Nội.
Vũ Văn Song Toàn’s fourth book, Đoản Khúc Chiều Phù Dung (Song about Cotton Rose), features the cultures and traditional customs of Vietnamese villages. Modern rural developments and new-style construction are also included.
“Readers can feel my nostalgia through every page of my book,” said writer Toàn, who began his career in 2000.
Books by Toàn and his colleagues are available on e-commerce platforms such as vinabook.com and tiki.vn.
According to well-known author Nguyễn Văn Thọ, writing about rural life and farmers is our writers’ duty.
“Cultural authorities, publishers and writers should work more closely to introduce new, quality books featuring farmers' daily lives, their ambitions, and their opportunities and challenges," he said.
Thọ complained that many young writers were focusing on urban life while rural life is “a boundless source of inspiration for artists in literature, art, theatre, and movies".
Thọ sent his latest work to a writing contest, called Làng Việt Thời Hội Nhập (Vietnamese Villages in Integration), launched by the Nông Thôn Ngày Nay (Countryside Today) newspaper late last year. The contest encourages writers who focus on farmers and rural living.
Thọ, in a recent interview with the HCM City-based Sài Gòn Giải Phóng (Liberated Sài Gòn) newspaper, called on members of local literary associations to increase their support for the contest.
The contest, Làng Việt Thời Hội Nhập, has attracted more than 320 works, many of them written by veteran authors such as Nguyễn Hiếu, Hoàng Minh Tường, Trần Chiến and Trần Thanh Cảnh.
The event’s award ceremony is slated to be held in December in Hà Nội. — VNS