Vietnamese Writer Snags the Southeast Asian Writers Award

by Naomi Grace Cavaneyro
Vinh Quyen, and his winning piece, Trong Vô Tận (Inside Infinity)
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In this edition of SEAtizens, we will get to know this year’s winner of The Southeast Asian (SEA) Writers Award, Vinh Quyen, and his winning piece, “Trong Vô Tận (Inside Infinity).”

The Southeast Asian Writers Award or SEA Write Award annually awards Southeast Asian poets and writers in the region with the prestigious honor of being recognized as a notable Southeast Asian voice in poetry and literature. It was founded by the Thai royal family in 1979 to honor King Bhumibol Adulyadej, a writer himself. Due to the pandemic, the awarding ceremony for this year recognized winners from 2019 to 2021, with Vinh Quyen winning the prestigious honor for 2021 with his book Trong Vô Tận (Inside Infinity), alongside poet Trần Quang Đạo who received the 2019 award and writer Võ Khắc Nghiêm who received the 2020 award.

Vinh Quyen is known for his moving pieces rooted in Vietnamese culture. He has written 20 books which include three titles in English: Debris of Debris (published in 2009 and won the Novel Competition of 2011-15), Inside Infinity, and Heart for Forest. He’s also a member of the Việt Nam Writers Association and former head of the Lao Động newspaper representative office in Central Highlands.

His winning book, Trong Vô Tận, follows the odyssey of a young Vietnamese man as he travels back to his hometown, Huế, after years of residing in the United States to compile documents for his thesis. This return was prompted by the knowledge that his previously unidentified father is in a coma and may be nearing his demise.

Exploring themes of cultural legacy and nationhood, the book takes place in 10 days but recounts 100 years of history, focusing on a time in Vietnam’s history when the nation was becoming the 5th largest economy in East Asia.  Quyen attempts to link the nation’s past to its present, exploring how culture affects people’s lives and helping the protagonist piece together his identity along the way.

Aside from winning the SEA Write Award, Mr. Quyen was recognized with a 2nd place award at the Novel Competition 2016-19 of the Việt Nam Writers Association for the same work. We can’t wait to read more of his works and see what journey he takes us on next.

 

SEA Wave magazine’s SEAtizens initiative is a series of inspiring stories of people in Southeast Asia who champion the human spirit by demonstrating courage, ingenuity, generosity, and selflessness.

 

For more SEAtizen stories and Southeast Asian news, visit seawavemag.com.

 

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