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Hai Truyen Tu -- Two Prison Life Stories; Nguyen Chi Thien's prose in bilingual text

Nguyen Chi Thien

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ISBN 10: 0977363864 / ISBN 13: 9780977363865
Published by Allies for Freedom publishers, 2008
Condition: Good Soft cover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Hai Truyen Tu -- Two Prison Life Stories; ...

Publisher: Allies for Freedom publishers

Publication Date: 2008

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition: Good

Edition: Nhan Quyen tai Viet Nam Series.

About this title


Two prose works by Nguyen Chi Thien in bilingual text -- English and Vietnamese. The narratives are of prison conditions in Communist Vietnam.

The author was a political prisoner in North Vietnam for twenty-seven years between 1961 and 1991. He won the Rotterdam International Poetry prize while in prison in 1985 and it was not known if he were alive or dead.

The two prison life stories are based on his experiences and interactions with other prisoners. One is a story of intellectual prisoners -- poets -- composing in their minds because they were not allowed pen and paper. The second is the story of a young woman on death row for killing a security officer in Hanoi who had harassed her. It is a love story as such events happen in prison. It is also the Old Man's (the author) philosophy of eternal life and hope expressed to The Maiden.

Photographs of the Hanoi Central Prison Museum were donated for the author's benefit by Christopher McCooey of Kyoto, Japan. This edition includes bilingual biographical and publishing history of the Vietnamese dissident poet Nguyen Chi Thien.

About the Author:

Nguyen Chi Thien was born in Hanoi in 1939. When Vietnam was partitioned in 1954, all but his brother remained in North Vietnam, their ancestral homeland, because of family relationships. He got into trouble frequently as a young man with his anti-government poems. In 1979, during a brief period of release, he wrote all the poems he had composed in his memory down on paper and brought them to the British Embassy in Hanoi. Denied asylum, he was arrested and taken to the Hanoi Central Prison. known as the Hanoi Hilton as named by the captured American flyers imprisoned there during the Vietnam War.

His poems were published via the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, soon recited and translated by Vietnamese university students in the U.S. In 1984 Professor Huynh Sanh Thong at Yale University translated and published the poems in bilingual text Hoa Dia Nguc / Flowers from Hell. This book is still in print by the Yale Southeast Asia Studies Program.

Amnesty International adopted Nguyen Chi Thien as one of six Prisoners of Conscience in 1985 and worked with other international organizations to gain his release by the Vietnamese government, which came in November 1991. Still under house arrest and in frail health, Nguyen Chi Thien immigrated to the United States in 1995 under the auspices of the Humanitarian Operation (H.O.) agreement. In 1998 he was awarded a fellowship from the International Parliament of Writers. He went to Paris and wrote the seven prose stories called Hoa Lo, published in Vietnamese in 2001. Translated into English, they were published as the Hoa Lo / Hanoi Hilton Storiesby Yale University Southeast Asia Studies in 2007. He is now fluent in English and became an American citizen in 2004. He spent his last years lecturing on political imprisonment by the Communist government of Vietnam, primarily broadcasting on Vietnamese language radio and TV in the United States.

Mr. Thien died in Orange County, California, of aggravated lung illness, on October 2, 2012. Shortly before his death the poet converted to the Catholic religion, receiving sacraments and choosing his identity as Thomas More of England.

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