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Young writer runs website to review worthy books for Vietnamese readers

Young writer runs website to review worthy books for Vietnamese readers

Wednesday, January 14, 2015, 14:12 GMT+7

A local writer whose fantasy novel has made her name in Vietnam over the past 10 years has successfully run a website to review both Vietnamese and foreign academic tomes and popular best-sellers.

Thao Duong, 26, has operated her book review site, “Reading Café” at, for the past six years.

“Worthy books are profuse, but who introduces such books to young readers? Academic books and expert articles are generally limited to a certain community, while a large number of average readers, particularly those under 30, are keen on reading such works,” Duong explained the reason for launching the nonprofit website in 2009.

Duong, better known as Chiem Phong, and four of her friends have listed and reviewed the Vietnamese translations of academic tomes which are written by authors who have claimed Nobel and Goncourt prizes and published in Vietnam. Other highlights include classic world masterpieces such as “Farewell Waltz” by Milan Kundera, one of the Czech Republic’s most recognized authors; “Blindness” by Portuguese author José Saramago; and “The Devil in the Flesh” by French novelist-poet Raymond Radiguet.

Duong also alternates such reviews with those on easier-to-read best-sellers.

She and her teammates encountered immense difficulty during the early days, but they managed to overcome it with their dedication and passion for books. 

Their website has grown to be a much-loved reliable book review site with a large readership.

It features diverse book reviews and articles written by Duong and her teammates themselves, as well as contributors and readers, not those culled from other sources.

“A far-fetched dream though it may seem, I aspire to blur the line between academic tomes and popular ones,” Duong said.

A book written in 10 years

Apart from her Reading Café, Duong is also popular with young book lovers for her 1,000-page, two-volume novel titled “Huyen Thoai Porasitus” (Porasitus Legend).

She began writing the book some 10 years ago when she was only 16 years old and posted its chapters on local websites.

The chapters have been enthusiastically embraced by local youth.

She said readers’ fervent reception spurred her on to complete the book. 

The complete version of the book, which is written in “fantasy,” an emerging trend among young writers and readers in Vietnam, came out in print a few months ago.

“Huyen Thoai Porasitus” has been critically acclaimed for the young writer’s skills and rich imagination in depicting several imaginary kingdoms, over 100 characters, and dozens of battles.

The legendary storyline is also intertwined with schemes, love, and revenge.

Duong’s book has been posted on over 100 websites, yields thousands of results on Google search, and enjoys roughly two million views.

The book, which is a companion for many young locals during their childhood and teenage years, also triggered a copyright hassle between Vnfiction – a literature forum – and other websites and drew ire against piracy in 2008.

Duong said she had never played online games or read any fantasy books before she embarked on “Huyen Thoai Porasitus.”

The young woman, who dropped out of the Banking University of Ho Chi Minh City to listen to her heart’s desire to major in literature at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities later, revealed she is currently working on “Red Castle” and “Silver” – the sequels to “Huyen Thoai Porasitus.”

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