Đặng Thân

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Đặng Thân
Đặng Thân.jpg
Pen nameĐặng Thân
OccupationWriter, poet
Notable worksCyber Ghost, short stories collection, 2008; Tiền vệ phụ âm thư (avant-garde alliteration calligraphy, 2009); [Fragments of Earthy/Naked Souls], a novel, 2011; Hetero-reasonings & Homo-portraits, 2013; No Sense, poetry, 2014

Đặng Thân is a bilingual poet, fiction writer and essayist, based in Vietnam. There he is regarded "the typical figure of Post-Doi Moi Literature",[1] and considered "the best humourist ever" and even an "awesomely brilliant genius".[1] Unfortunately, it was repeatedly said that leading governmental departments in Vietnam instructed the "state-controlled" literary circle that his works were "harmful". From 2008 up to 2011 and from 2014 up to present, all publishing houses there had not been allowed to print any book of his for no righteous reasons, and official state-run newspapers had been ordered to leave him in the dark.

In the feature article, "Demilitarized Zone: Report From Literary Vietnam", the New York-based Poets & Writers wrote of Thân: "In the literary circles he runs in, Dang is praised for his idiosyncratic prose and rebellious style."[2]

Đặng Thân's officially-printed works in various genres have been widely recognised and created the utmost important turning-point in writing style of Vietnamese literature. He is the representative of a completely-new way of discourse with alternative lexical resources in preference of connotation rather than the commonly-old usage of denotation. He pioneers Vietnamese alliteration poetry and a new style named phac-nhien.


Born in 1964 in the city of Hạ Long[3] in North Vietnam, Thân has taught American and English literature at several universities in Hanoi since 1990, and has also worked as a translator and interpreter. As of 2009, he is the Training Director at the IVN Institute for Research and Support of Education Development, as well as being in charge of Futurology Studies at the I-Ching Research & Development Center in Hanoi.

Writing career[edit]

Thân is truly idiosyncratic and original in many genres, and he also writes and publishes in English. In 2005, he won an award for short story in the Poetry & Short Stories Contest on the Deep Love for 1000-year-old Thang Long.

In December 2008, he published his first short stories collection named Ma Net (Cyber Ghost), and it was immediately greeted by ardent reviewers and readers both at home and abroad with raptuous applause and controversy as well.[4] Hundreds of literature bibliophiles attended his book launch, an incredible event of that kind in Vietnam those days.

In January 2009, a 23-metre-long scroll of calligraphy named Avant-garde Alliteration (by Trinh Tuan & Pham Long Ha) depicting his seven unique poetic works of alliteration came to the public and shocked the media.[5]

In November 2011, after a long period of being secretly deterred by Vietnamese governmental publishing offices, his controversial "hetero-novel" [những mảnh hồn trần] ( [Fragments of Earthy/Naked Souls]) came to the public. On 7 January 2012, the French Institute of Hanoi (Institut Français de Hanoï – L'Espace – Centre Culturel Français) held a significant seminar on this book, and many Vietnamese critics and writers had gathered there to heatedly discuss its exceptional originality.[6] Later on 18 October 2012, Goethe-Institut Hanoi organised a special event for this novel where many noted scholars and intellectuals praised and labelled it "the utmost important turning-point in writing style of Vietnamese literature,"[7] and suggested "it's worth to be Nobel-Prize nominated."

In January 2013, his collection of essays named Dị-nghị-luận Đồng-chân-dung (Hetero-reasonings & Homo-portraits) was published. It then considered “a very great event in the learning life of Vietnamese nation in the early twenty-first century” for its “idiosyncrasy in contents and writing styles.”[8] It is the first time in the history of Vietnamese literature that a book conveys “the aesthetics of vulgarity” and “parody in literary criticism,”[9] especially it brings about “the panoramic way of reading literature,” opening profound dimensions and multi-layers of all literary works and authors. Prof. Phong Lê wrote, "The recent introduction of Hetero-reasonings & homo-portraits by Đặng Thân, a newly-recognised literary critic, is a great, I must say, a notably remarkable event in the life of arts and studies of Vietnamese nation at the beginning of the 21st century. This book is, clearly, so original and distinctive in its contents and writing styles that we can harly see any single trait of them in those representative critics that formed the 20th century literary criticism. Personally, I do hope it will have a durable life in the high public acceptance, as strongly stated by the colleagues of mine."[8]

In October 2014, one among many of his poetry anthologies was published in Vietnam, entitled Không Hay (No Sense). His poems appear very modern and philosophic; they have many semantic and stylistic layers which first reading tends not to reveal many. As a bilingual poet, his English poems are more evident and convincing while his Vietnamese verses are more for the linguists. He is a grand master of poetic language, and he pioneers Vietnamese alliteration poetry and a new style named phac-nhien that might partly mean rawly-natural. In September 2017, he was invited as an unheard-of international poet to Taipei Poetry Festival where he drew a large audience and evoked the media. The Taiwanese giant of contemporary literature, poet Xiang Yang wrote of Thân, "Đặng Thân is successful in using black humour language to deal with real problems. He's created his own poetic styles and captured the musicality in a natural language that proves himself to be an unsurpassable talent."[10]


Short Stories[edit]

  • Ma Net (Cyber Ghost, Literature Publishers 2008): Vào rừng mơ, "Thùng thuốc nổ", Đã 20 mùa thu người Hà Nội, Người anh hùng bất tử, Người thầy của em, Cú hých về nguồn, Người thầy của những tuyên ngôn, Đêm trắng của Nam Việt Vương, "Hiếp", "Yêu", ma net, ma nhòa
  • Other stories: Mẩu Thịt Thừa, Bài học tiếng Việt mới


  • [những mảnh hồn trần] ( [Fragments of Earthly/Naked Souls], Hội Nhà Văn Publishers 2011) – See: Chapter 1, Chapter 16, Chapter 29, Chapter 29, Chapter 33, Chapter 53 on Da Màu
  • Những kênh bão người/Channels of the Homo Storms – See "Sử thi Ba Bựa/Tam Tài xứ Xích Đạo Thổ" (The Epic of Three Estates) on Da Màu
  • Factum [a] Cave – See i, ii, iii on Tiền Vệ


  • Không Hay (No Sense, Hội Nhà Văn Publishers, 2014): Cơn sóng đầu tiên năm mới đến, Quá Nguyên tiêu, Valentine lạnh, U...mê, Sáng xuân nay lông chim bay ngoài cửa sổ, Đêm đê...mê, Phố xuân, Tam thập niên nghiệt ngã lắm oh time, E–hèmjaomùa, Một ngày nghỉ, Hạ Huế, Hạ lội, Ngái em, Bức tranh minh họa, Hội phố mộng, KFC, Đêm sương mù trên phố, Sao em chỉ uống cà phê chiều..., Thanh thiền (karaoke zen), Cô đơn em, Văn chiêu [hồn] giời, 6i+Hi vii, Khốc cạn sông hồng/hường, Táo 7 (thất) ngày ngân 7 nốt, Không không, Đồng dao vũ trụ, Cú hých về nguồn, Bần thần, Phố âm u ngày đông, Meo-buồn, Mộng du ký: Xít-ni, ngày mù mùa đông, Metropolitan London - Paris - New York - Tokyo, Nước mắt trên sa mạc
  • TỪ ĐIỂN THI X/X LOẠI [chúng sinh] – See: A, B1 & B2, C1 & C2, D, G1 & G2, J, L1 & L2, M, N, P1 & P2, S1 & S2, V... on Tiền Vệ
  • Phụ Âm (Alliteration): Phụ âm [ân đạo hệ / Khoa lão mẫu thân từ], Xao xuyến & Sung sướng, 6i +Hi i – ii – iii – iv – v – vi...
  • hài ku[l]


  • Dị-nghị-luận Đồng-chân-dung (Hetero-Reasonings & Homo-Portraits, Hội Nhà Văn Publishers 2013): Mộc Dục Luận, Kẻ sỹ: Cội nguồn cảm hứng sáng tạo & Xuất xử, Mơ, [Ngồ] Ngộ Ngôn Sư, Đọc Bình Ngô đại cáo (nhân ngày nhà giáo), Tú Xương chỉ có "xướng" và "tu"...?, Vai diễn & Số phận, Bán[h], Về [đại] dịch [ma] thuật, "Tỉu nuận", Thơ phụ âm (alliteration) [& tôi], "Hình như" Từ Chi, Hình như có người "cởi áo" trên Cửa Cấm, Tiếng ngựa hoang..., V[i]ết mật ngôn trên d[r]a, Và đã "phải lòng", "Quite connects", Mai Văn Phấn & Công nghệ cách tân thơ, "Đoàn tầu 'Thống Nhất'(hay là 'quân tử dĩ hậu đức tải vật')" (on Đỗ Lai Thúy), "Nỗi đau [đáu] của trực giác(hay là tiếng gầm của sư tử)" (on Hoàng Ngọc Hiến), "Nhớ Phạm Công Thiện|Quên Henry Miller", James Joyce: vầng hồng từ đồng cỏ Ireland, Bài học tiếng Việt mới
  • Other writings: Hình như là "cởi quần", Những chuồ/trường đại học (ĐH) khủng vs. ĐH "R", Gustav Mahler – lời tiên tri của chủ nghĩa hiện đại & chủ nghĩa hậu-hiện đại, Julius Caesar, Hà Nội 21 cửa ô – Hà Nội 5 cửa ô & Ô Cầu Giấy, Hoàng Kế Viêm và quan hệ với Lưu Vĩnh Phúc, Có một dòng sông "chết lâm sàng", "Nước mắt trên sa mạc", Còn lũ nào ác hơn phát xít? (on Primo Levi), "Hành trình cỏ cây xuyên tâm l[iên/inh]" (đọc dọc Thơ tuyển Mai Văn Phấn)


  • "Dang Than's stories are most impressive and extremely well written."[11] (James W. Borton - American senior writer and editor of Asia Times and The Washington Times)
  • "Dang Than has the knack of taking simple, everyday events and actions and presenting them in a way that demonstrates his philosophical, sensitive and perceptive mindset. He reflects on some of the most fundamental and yet basic features of man's existence and relationships; he searches out and expresses their value, depth and importance to our lives in language that is, at the same time, easy to read and yet, deep and emotional ..."[12] (Stavros Carapetis - Australian scholar/sculptor)
  • "Having read the selection of short stories Ma Net (Cyber Ghost) I was exceptionally interested in the story "ma nhòa [net ii]" that is in proximity to the popular storytelling or 'linear narrative'. Its uniquely original feature lies in its "storytelling voice" which is a magical mix of ironic humour and raw anguish. Nonetheless, the author showed alternative styles of 'non-linear narrative' in most of the other stories..."[13] (Hoàng Ngọc Hiến (2008). "Reading Ma Net")
  • "If there needs to be a definition, I would like to name his writing style as 'ultra-realism'... This genre of literature reveals its ideology not on the 'realist' side of the plots but on the 'ultra' one. The destruction of the literary '3-D limit' creates an open sky of originality towards the infinite, inspiring a feeling like advancing from a shallow pond to an immense ocean. That can be true for both the writer and the reader as the former could find himself an outsider and the latter may discover himself the hero of a story. Đặng Thân's language can be seen flying with wings in stories like "'Hiếp'" and "'Yêu'", especially in the exceptionally well-written work of "ma net". He must be recognized as the first creator of 'ultra-realistic' characters in literature... This approach is that of an eagle. Flying over or overpassing the 'reality' may be the one and only way to catch the holistic view of it. In 'Nietzschean terms', one must get out of the 'mansty' so as to see man clearly and discerningly... Such a 'fresh' literature of sudden rises to 'heaven' and amazing falls to 'hell' just emerges from his own way of 'wording' and 'storytelling voicing'... An eagle, isn't he?"[14]
  • "Regarding one's self as another's, especially showing a serious but humorous and tolerant attitude toward oneself, is the first step to enlightenment."[15]
  • "As compared to some other contemporary writers worth to be read, Dang Than belongs to a more complicated category. In terms of fiction creative writing techniques, he has found himself a very idiosyncratic way of expression with a lengthy and press-like narrative. If you cannot realise an awesomely brilliant genius in his intermingled appraisals that seem accidental at times, you may be supposed that he is writing newspaper articles or, compiling materials. Consequently, some people might stop reading his while others cannot go with the track or understand his works at all. There should be one way to “decode” him: you can first underline sentences and paragraphs you really like, then you can gradually perceive what this writer of immense genius with enormous ideas and materials really wants. Dang Than needs a pretty number of concubines who would rearrange his belongings and clean up all the trash he leaves behind in the rooms he sleeps each night. I am of the view that he is looking for ways to rearrange himself, forming a prestigious literary estate. Certainly, he cannot leave out this mammoth “carpeting” style as he is uniquely brilliant and overwhelmed in so many ideas he makes, connects or interrelates. He is digesting both himself and life around him."[16]
  • “The author shows an approach that originates from both internal and external sides, both scientific and artistic perspectives, with rich knowledge emerging from different cultures together with idiosyncratic criticisms; however, his is not far from traditional realms. Furthermore, his points of view towards contemporary poets and writers are not only original but also so youthful.” (Critic Prof.PhD Trần Ngọc Vương)
  • "When reading Đặng Thân's, one needs to give up the conformist-like practice of abiding to the 'common sense' language. An ardent reader must penetrate into his language’s crust at all costs so as to hit its very core of perfection or, 'pāramitā'.” (Vietnamese Poet Nguyễn Bảo Chân)
  • “Đặng Thân is a hetero-subject that goes beyond those ones of trauma [in totalitarian countries]. Đặng Thân is a hetero-universe that is away from worlds of joys and sorrows. Đặng Thân is a hetero-voice that cannot be mixed-up with the crowd’s identically serial utterances.” (Critic Prof.PhD La Khắc Hòa [Lã Nguyên])
  • "Đặng Thân is successful in using black humour language to deal with real problems. He's created his own poetic styles and captured the musicality in a natural language that proves himself to be an unsurpassable talent." (Taiwanese poet Xiang Yang)[17]


  1. ^ a b "văn học & nghệ thuật" (in Vietnamese). Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  2. ^ Stephen Morison Jr. (2009). "Demilitarized Zone: Report From Literary Vietnam". Poets & Writers Magazine, Sep/Oct 2009 (New York, USA)
  3. ^ Stephen Morison Jr. wrote in "Demilitarized Zone: Report from Literary Vietnam" that "Dang spent his childhood in the small coastal city of Ha Long, only settling down in Hanoi after he became an adult."
  4. ^ Publication of Ma Net (Cyber Ghost), Vietnam Literature Project.
  5. ^ Tiền vệ Phụ âm Thư Calligraphy, Vietnam Literature Project.
  6. ^ Publication of[Những Mảnh Hồn Trần], Vietnam Literature Project.
  7. ^ Lã Nguyên (2012). "Sàn diễn 'đa thoại' của Đặng Thân".
  8. ^ a b Phong Lê (2013). “Nghĩ về tương lai của phê bình”.
  9. ^ Nguyễn Đăng Điệp (2013). “Mỹ học của cái thanh & mỹ học của cái tục”.
  10. ^ Xiang Yang (2017). “Đặng Thân - Kiệt tài thơ Việt | 鄧紳 - 也屬一絕”.
  11. ^ James W. Borton (American senior writer and editor of Asia Times and The Washington Times).
  12. ^ Stavros Carapetis (Australian scholar/sculptor).
  13. ^ Hoàng Ngọc Hiến (2008). "Reading Ma Net". Văn Chương Việt.
  14. ^ Phạm Lưu Vũ (2008). "The Best Humourist Ever". Văn Việt.
  15. ^ Đỗ Lai Thúy (2010). "Dang Than: the Typical Figure of Post-Doi Moi Literature".
  16. ^ Nguyễn Hồng Nhung (2010). "Notes on Dang Than's".
  17. ^ Xiang Yang (2017). "Đặng Thân - Kiệt tài thơ Việt".


Further reading[edit]