Born in central Vietnam in 1947, when that country was still a French colony, Duong Thu Huong (zhung tew huong) started her life with modest beginnings as the daughter of a schoolteacher mother and a father who was a tailor and guerilla fighter for Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh. As a teenager in the mid-1960’s, she joined the Communist Party, serving as the leader of a Communist youth brigade that, in part, provided entertainment for Communist troops during the Vietnam War. She was one of only three persons in the brigade of forty to survive the experience. Forever committed to and involved with politics, she also voluntarily joined the Vietnamese army in its brief war against China in 1979; she was the first woman to serve in combat on the front lines of the conflict. She also was a war correspondent and wrote news releases about the war. After the war, she wrote and spoke on behalf of the government and the Communist cause. During this time she supported herself primarily by writing fiction and screenplays.
In the early 1980’s, there was a major shift in her temperament and beliefs about the role of Communism in her country. She began to speak openly against corruption, bribery, chicanery, repression, and bureaucracy at public political events, as well as in her writings. During the decade she wrote three novels. The first two, Hành trình ngày tho âu (1985; journey in childhood) and Bên kia bo oa vong: Tiên thuyêt (1988; Beyond Illusions, 2002), were not problematic for the government. In fact, at this time the government in Hanoi had called for writers in the country to comment about the nation’s social, economic, and political problems.
However, when she published Nhung thiên duong mù: Tiêu thuyêt (1988; Paradise of the Blind, 1993), she ran into trouble with government censors and mainline Communists. While no one thought the work to be overtly anti-Communist or antigovernment propaganda, it was too revealing of problems in its nuances and undertones....
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