The League of Independent Vietnamese Writers (LIVW) announced its very first Vietnamese Literary Awards on March 3, 2016 – International Writers’ Day. Members, supporters and sponsors of the LIVW gathered at poet Y Nhi’s house in the suburb of Ho Chi Minh city to announce and deliver the awards, as the owner of the anticipated venue in the city had withdrawn permission under the pressure of the cultural police. The authorities also succeeded in preventing several prominent writers and intellectuals such as poet Do Trung Quan, poet Bui Chat, writer Le Phu Khai, and Professor Nguyen Dang Hung from attending the event.
Six awards were announced during the meeting. Among them, deceased writer Bui Ngoc Tan won the special award for best prose. The young poet Nguyen Hoang Anh Thu received the official award for best poetry, and the young writer Di-Hanh Nguyen won the official best prose award.
Formed in 2014 by 62 writers inside and outside Vietnam, the League aims, among other things, “to bring forth conditions for professional amelioration, to advance and promote individual creation,” as well as “to defend all legitimate materialistic and spiritual interests of its members, especially the freedom to write and publish” (Proclamation of the Committee to Promote the Founding of the LIVW, March 4, 2014).
The LIVW is not to be confused with the Vietnam Writers’ Association (VWA), which has been operating since its creation in 1957 within the boundaries of and for the official ideology of the ruling Communist Party. In May 2015, that writers’ organization urged its members to eliminate nine writers who had previously joined the independent League, which prompted twenty prominent writers to leave the VWA.
The LIVW stresses its identity as a “civil society” organization and seeks to affirm its independence from any other organizations inside and outside Vietnam, including the ruling Party. A similar movement by Vietnamese dissident writers in the 1950s was severely repressed by Party in what is known as the Nhan Van-Giai Pham Affair.
Video of the award ceremony: