The Literary Legacy of Doi Moi: Themes and Trends in Vietnamese Literature
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The Literary Legacy of Doi Moi: Themes and Trends in Vietnamese Literature

For many readers before The Sympathizer’s publication, Vietnam was a distant country populated by mysterious and untrustworthy people. Mother’s Legacy is an allegory of the nation about two deceased fathers’ scattered children.

Kien, the main character Kien goes through various time zones with no chapters, illustrating how war gothicizes the idea of time.


In this period of renewal, Vietnamese literature strove for an aesthetic and ethical integration with its social and political background. First time in literary history, women authors have exploded. The feminine sensibility of their poems and prose gave them a new life. Women resent social restrictions based on gender. They embrace visual representations of violence and war and the psychological aspects of domestic life.

A good example of this is Bao Phi’s novel Catfish and Mandala, a narrative about a girl who flees Vietnam in the late 1990s and struggles with understanding herself as well as her war-marred parents. The lyrical, spare novel composed in the style of a spoken word Slam champion, and a graduate of Wallace Stegner’s Stanford writing program, is a highly collectible.

Other themes include isolation displacement, alienation and dislocation; dealing with the complexity of generations and cultures and loss of identity. Trauma and sorrow are particularly important, as is the double-traumatic feeling of being raped. Gina Marie Weaver examines the theme of forgetting in Bao’s and Duong’s novels.

Doi Moi economic reforms literature

Vietnam began a new period of reform following the conclusion of war. This phase was called Doi Moi, and it was the time to eliminate self-imposed barriers to progress as well as trying to rectify an unproductive autarchy economy by encouraging foreign investment, creating a market-oriented system and boosting exports.

Also, this time brought a change in literary focus. Writers moved away from patrioticism and embraced a new philosophy that emphasized human destinies along with universal principles and an open-minded view of reality. This was true especially for female writers, who contributed an eminent feminine perspective to the literature during this time of revival.

Le Ly Hayslip’s novel, When Heaven and Earth moved places, is probably the best example. It tells the tale of a girl who is caught between pro- and anti-communist elements in her village. This book shocked readers by its authentic portrayal of postwar turmoil and the flaws of the new Vietnamese regime.

Vietnamese war literature

Many books were written on Vietnam which includes a number that have Chinh Huu achieved some degree in literary acceptance. The books in this genre deal with complex war-related issues and attempt to present its brutal reality as well as its ambivalent moral dimension.

Most of them comprise memoirs or novels which depict the lives of American troops in Vietnam. They also portray the social divide between Vietnamese population and their American counterparts. Many have been called classics while others are obsolete.

Most notable pieces from this kind of writing are poetry and personal essays written by Michael O’Donnell and Tim O’Brien. They examine the bleak conditions of war and discuss the psychological toll which it causes troops. They also urge reconciliation as well as a determination for peace within the nation. These books have had an impact that has been significant in the understanding of the Vietnam war. The writings of these authors have helped to heal the wounds from this war.

Modern Vietnamese writers

Writing became more academic as modern Vietnamese writers started to embrace Western theories and scientific methods. Globes, photos electric lighting trains, ships, post offices, iron bridges, printers, newspapers and novels from the industrial West started to appear more often in the work of southern writers such as Binh Nguyen Loc with The remaining distances, Tram islet and Son Nam; Xuan Dieu and Thach Lam in their novel The house across the river and southern emigrant Nguyen Thi Thuy who wrote books Port without boat and Heaven music.

Literature revolutions in the North were more intense. Nguyen Th Kiem was a girl who gave a speech about literature in 1933 at the Association for the Promotion of Learning. She was critical of the previous style of poetry, whose rigid rules prevented honest expressions of contemporary experiences. It sparked two years of heated debate in the printed word between old and contemporary poetry that involved both the individual and the press.