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Popular Vietnamese literature works you can’t miss

Reading not only provides you with bags of knowledge, but it is also a good way to kill time during the COVID-19. Here are some popular Vietnamese books that you can’t miss.

Reading not only provides you with bags of knowledge, but it is also a good way to kill time during the COVID-19. Here are some popular Vietnamese books that you should really consider.

Tale of Kiều – Nguyễn Du/ Translated by Huỳnh Sanh Thông


This epic poem is widely known as the most significant work of Vietnamese literature. The poem describes the Việt Nam feudal society in the past when social and gender discrimination was at its peak. Through the story of the beautiful but unlucky girl named Kiều, readers will have a clear view of Việt Nam society from days gone by.

There are many English versions of Tale of Kiều, among which Huỳnh Sanh Thông's is well acclaimed.

You can find the book at

The Sorrow of War – Bảo Ninh/ Translated by Phan Thanh Hảo, Frank Palmos


The Sorrow of War is a novel written in 1990 and is considered to be the most emotional, haunting novel about Việt Nam’s war with America. The book is about a soldier working in a unit that collects dead bodies. As he looks for his comrades, he thinks back about the war and how it affected his life, his country and people.

You can find the book at

Behind the Red Mist – Hồ Anh Thái/ Translated by Nguyễn Qui Đức, Wayne Karlin


This is short fiction novel that describes a post-war generation in Việt Nam. The story begins with a 17-year-old boy who gets into an accident in an apartment. After the accident, he loses consciousness and travels back in time to witness a Hà Nội during wartime.

You can find the book at

Dumb Luck – Vũ Trọng Phụng/ Translated by Nguyễn Nguyệt Cầm, Peter Zinoman

Dumb Luck is about the lives of the Vietnamese middle classes during late-colonialism in a satirical way. It talks about a transformation of Xuân, a street-smart vagabond, from the bottom of barrel in society to middle class life. Through the novel, the author criticises wrong lifestyles of some middle-class people in the old society of Việt Nam.

You can find the book at

Crossing the River – Nguyễn Huy Thiệp/ Translated by Nguyễn Nguyệt Cầm, Dana Sachs


This short fiction novel is from one of Việt Nam’s most influential writer. It is about eleven people with different lives and jobs sitting together on the same boat waiting to cross a river. The author utilises the images of the people to describe Vietnamese post-war lives.

You can find the book at

Spring Essence: The Poetry of Hồ Xuân Hương/ Translated by John Balaban


Spring Essence is the translated name in English of Hồ Xuân Hương, who was born at the end of Lê Dynasty (1428 - 1789). She is one of the greatest and most influential classical Vietnamese poets. Her work mostly reflects difficult and unfair lives of women in feudal society without hesitation, despite all the strict rules of that time. She also directly criticises bad habits and abusive power activities in feudalism.

You can find the book at

Ly Ly Cao (VNS)


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