Vu Trong Phung

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Vũ Trọng Phụng (1912-1939) was a fiction writer, playwright and journalist.

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He was born in Hưng Yên and died of tuberculosis in Hanoi, famous, young, in deep poverty. Considered one of the greatest Vietnamese novelists ever, his books were nevertheless out of print in North Vietnam for 29 years and did not reappear until 1985. In 2004, 20 of his newpaper articles, rediscovered by Peter Zinoman, were published as Vẽ nhọ bôi hề (NXB Hội Nhà văn). Peter Zinoman and Nguyễn Nguyệt Cầm also translated Số đỏ into English. It was published as Dumb Luck (University of Michigan Press, 2002). Số đỏ has also been made into a film, released in Vietnam in the mid-1990s. Kỹ nghệ lấy Tây has been translated into English by Thúy Tranviet, and published as The Industry of Marrying Europeans (Cornell Southeast Asia Program Publications, 2006).
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Peter Zinoman comments: "Vu Trong Phung has generated more controversy over a longer period of time than any 20th-century Vietnamese writer. During the 1930s, his work became the subject of intense debates over literary representations of sexuality and pornography. During the 1940s, communist literary critics failed to reach consensus over the revolutionary merits of his work, leaving it in an uncategorized and hence unpublishable limbo. During the 1950s, Vu Trong Phung’s writing provided a battleground for a bitter conflict between communist cultural officials and intellectuals connected to the Nhan Van Giai Pham Movement who championed Phung’s body of work as the most significant achievement of modern Vietnamese literature. Climaxing when Politburo member Hoang Van Hoan launched a bitter attack on Phung’s three most important novels (all published in 1936) in an essay circulated internally in 1960, the conflict ended with the repression of Nhan Van Giai Pham and the banning of the author’s work for the following 30 years. Since the onset of Renovation in the mid-1980s, Phung’s work has emerged again at the center of debates over the quality of modern Vietnamese literature and the long-term effects of the cultural policies of the Communist Party."

Linh Dinh started this entry.



  • Dứt tình (1934)
  • Giông tố (1936)
  • Vỡ đê (1936)
  • Số đỏ (1936)
  • Trúng số độc đắc (1938)
  • Làm đĩ (1936)
  • Quý phái (1938-1939)
  • Lấy nhau vì tình (1942)

Investigative books

  • Cạm bẫy người (1933)
  • Kỹ nghệ lấy Tây (1934)
  • Dân biểu và Dân biểu (1935)
  • Cơm thầy cơm cô (1936)
  • Lục xì (1938)


  • Tuyển tập Vũ Trọng Phụng, selected works (Hanoi: Văn học, 1987)
  • Toàn tập Vũ Trọng Phụng, complete works (Hanoi: Hội Nhà văn, 1998)


  • "Không một tiếng vang" (1931)
  • "Giết mẹ" (1936), after Victor Hugo's "Lucrèce Borgia"

Vũ Trọng Phụng online