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Young writer wows judges, wins award (July 22, 2004)

BINH THUAN — A coming-of-age novel about three ambitious girls, written by a young author from Binh Thuan Province, won first prize at the 2003-04 National Youth Writing Competition.

Nguyen Ngoc Thuan, 32, a graphic designer at HCM City’s Tuoi Tre (Youth) Newspaper, beat out 145 other writers for the VND10 million prize with his work, Tren Doi Cao Chan Bay Thien Su (Tending Cherubs on High Hill).

Thuan writes because "people can’t live without literature".

"Many Vietnamese youngsters enjoy computer games and movies much more than books. They think literary works are too serious and boring when all they want is entertainment," he said.

"Young writers like me need to change this predicament. We should create more suitable books for young readers."

Organised by the Thanh Nien (Young People) Publishing House and the Van Nghe (Literary and Arts) Magazine, the fiction competition welcomed both novels and short stories, most of which explored social problems facing today’s youngsters.

Second prize went to a novel by newcomer Nguyen Thi Diep Mai, Tra Hoa Hong Cho Dat (Giving Roses Back to the Land).

Mai, a resident of the Mekong Delta’s Kien Giang Province, happily accepted the prize for her first submission to a writing competition.

Four writers from HCM City and Ha Noi shared third prize.

Organisers said they were impressed by the caliber of submissions by young and writers’ submissions.

"We will publish all high-quality submissions and distribute them nationwide," competition judge Nguyen Thi Minh Thai said.

"I like the literary styles of young writers like Thuan and Mai. They have the ability to raise the quality of Vietnamese literature," she said.

Last year, Thuan won first prize for Mot Thien Nam Mong (Children’s Dreams) at the 2002-3 National Writing Competition for Children organised by Kim Dong Publishing House.

His 18-chapter novel – a colourful world of dreams and supernatural characters told in funny ancedotes – sold several thousand copies in HCM City and other provinces.

"I employ new and exciting methods in my work that young readers appreciate," he said.

Born into poverty, Thuan nurtured his passion for writing as a student at HCM City’s Fine Arts University.

He believes his love for life and people have helped him win over fastidious judges and young readers. "For me, writing is not a game. It’s my real life," he said. — VNS

Reprinted with permission from Vietnam News Agency


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