Pham Thi Hoai
Born in Hải Dương province, Phạm Thị Hoài grew up in North Vietnam. In 1977, she went to former East Berlin to study at Humboldt University, where she earned a degree in Archival Studies. Returning to Vietnam in 1983, she lived in Hanoi where she worked as an archivist and began to write seriously.
Her first novel, Thiên sứ (The Crystal Messenger), was published in Hanoi in 1988, and was subsequently banned by the Vietnamese government. Thiên sứ has since been translated into English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Finnish. In 1993, the German translation of Thiên sứ was awarded the annual Frankfurt Literaturpreis, awarded for the best foreign novel published in Germany. In the same year, Phạm Thị Hoài left Vietnam for Berlin, where she currently lives and works. From Berlin, Phạm Thị Hoài founded and continues to curate the influential internet journal Talawas.
In the Afterword to his translation of The Crystal Messenger, which won the Victorian Premier's Literary Award in 2000, Ton-That Quynh-Du writes of Phạm Thị Hoài:
- In Vietnam her writing drew enthusiastic acclaim from readers and literary critics. Her detractors were just as vocal. Vietnam’s cultural bureaucrats objected to her critical views of contemporary Vietnam, and were offended by her lack of respect for traditions and disregard of social taboos […] Despite having been attacked in a public forum, Pham Thi Hoai has never been accused of political dissent. Instead, her detractors have charged her with holding an ‘excessively pessimistic view’ of Vietnam, of abusing the ‘sacred mission of a writer,’ and even of ‘salacious’ writing. But even her strongest critics acknowledge that she is a writer with a keen eye for detail, a humorous, acerbic wit, and a fine ear for the rhythms of the Vietnamese language. (145-146)
In addition to the internationally acclaimed Thiên sứ, Phạm Thị Hoài has also published essays, two collections of short stories, Mê Lộ (1989) and Man Nương (1995), and another novel Marie Sến (1996). She is a noted translator of German literature and has translated works by Kafka, Brecht, Bernhard, and Dürrenmatt into Vietnamese. She is also the editor of Trần Dần – Ghi: 1954-1960 (Paris: TD Mémoire, 2001), a collection of Trần Dần's journal entries. Her short stories and essays have appeared in literary journals in the United States, Australia, Switzerland, and Germany, and in several anthologies of contemporary Vietnamese fiction, including Night, Again and Vietnam: A Traveler's Literary Companion. Sunday Menu, a selection of her short stories, was translated into English by Ton-That Quynh-Du, and published in Australia by Pandarus Books in 2006, and in the U.S. by University of Hawaii Press in 2007. She has also been translated into French by Phan Huy Đường.
Hai-Dang Phan started this entry. Linh Dinh contributed further information.
- Ton-That Quynh-Du. Afterword. The Crystal Messenger. (Hyland House, 1997)
Phạm Thị Hoài online, in English
- Chín bỏ làm mười, translated into English by Peter Zinoman
- Phạm Thị Hoài page on Da Màu, with three stories translated into English by Tôn Thất Quỳnh Du
- A profile in the Sydney Morning Herald
- What Remains, thirty years after the war
- Phạm Thị Hoài on the state of Vietnamese literature today
- Translator Ton-That Quynh-Du discusses Sunday Menu
Phạm Thị Hoài online, in Vietnamese
- Phạm Thị Hoài page on Tiền vệ
- The novel Marie Sến
- "Ám Thị", with links to several more stories
- Phạm Thị Hoài page on Đặc Trưng, with several stories and novels
- Phạm Thị Hoài page on Thời Văn
- Three essays on her by Thụy Khuê
- "Hợp đồng ngầm với các con chữ," an interview by Phạm Việt Cường
- "Tình dục trong văn chương Phạm Thị Hoài" by Inrasara
- An interview on BBC Vietnamese
- Interviewing Linh Đinh
- Interviewing Nguyên Ngọc
- Interviewing Đinh Bá Anh
- Interviewing Phạm Xuân Nguyên
- Interviewing Nguyễn Quang Lập
- Interviewing Nguyễn Đăng Mạnh
- Inteviewing Nhật Tuấn
Phạm Thị Hoài's essays, online
- "Tư cách của trí thức Việt Nam", a polemic
- "Dịch chết"
- "Sấm Hegel"
- "Sờ Linda", on Đỗ Kh.
- "Thứ Hai tuần sau của văn chương"
- "Một giải thưởng văn chương mang tên Bùi Giáng"
- "Nhà văn thời Hậu Đổi Mới"
- "Thủ lĩnh trong bóng tối", on Trần Dần
- "Mưa Thuận Thành"
- "Hư cấu thật, hiện thực giả"
- "Bao giờ cho đến bốn năm sau?"
- "Và lí trí phê phán khắc nghiệt được thiền trước niềm hoan lạc…"
- "Còn lại gì"
Phạm Thị Hoài's translations, online
- "Ta là bọ chét trong lông sư tử mà thôi", Phạm Thị Hoài translates and annotates a George Steiner interview
- "Gõ vào ngôn ngữ", a Elfriede Jelinek interview, translated by Phạm Thị Hoài and Đông Phương
- "Bản chất tôi đã ác sẵn", a Thomas Bernhard interview
- Friedrich Dürrenmatt's play "Der Besuch der alten Dame," with an introduction
- "Josephine, nữ ca sĩ hay Dân chuột", Phạm Thị Hoài translates and introduces Franz Kafka's "Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk"