16 Of The Best Vietnamese Authors To Buy On Amazon Today

If you’re looking to enjoy the culture of Vietnam, check out 16 of the best Vietnamese authors on this list.

The Vietnamese people have seen quite a bit of tragedy, war, and upheaval throughout their history. Many Vietnamese authors have taken these experiences and written about them, creating beautiful works of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction that capture the essence of what it means to struggle politically.

Reading the work of one of these Vietnamese authors will help you appreciate these struggles and how they shape the character and voice of a people. Here are top 16 Vietnamese authors on this list.

Best Vietnamese Authors

1. Viet Thanh Nguyen

New York Times bestselling author Viet Thanh Nguyen is the author of The Sympathizer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. He has many other works to his name, including The Refugees and Nothing Ever, Dies: Vietnam, and the Memory of War.

Nguyen was born in Vietnam and came to the United States as a refugee in 1975. Much of his writing comes from his experience living in a Vietnamese refugee camp. Today, he serves as an English professor at the University of Southern California.

The Sympathizer
  • Viet Thanh Nguyen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 06/13/2017 (Publication Date) - Audible Studios on Brilliance Audio (Publisher)

2. Helen Hoang

Helen Hoang is a Vietnamese American author who writes romance novels. One of her best-known is her debut novel, The Kiss Quotient. The book has two sequels, The Bride Test and The Heart Principle.

Hoang was born to a Vietnamese immigrant in Minnesota and then moved to California when she was older. Hoang is an autistic woman, and the main character of The Kiss Quotient is also autistic. She pulls from her experiences as an autistic person and her mother’s stories of growing up in Vietnam to write her books.

The Kiss Quotient
  • Hoang, Helen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 06/05/2018 (Publication Date) - Berkley (Publisher)

3. Duong Thu Huong

Best Vietnamese Authors: Duong Thu Huong
Ertezoute, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Duong Thu Huong is the author of Paradise of the Blind, Journey in Childhood, and Beyond Illusions. Initially published in Vietnam, these books were censored due to their content. Her book The Lost Life was the first Vietnamese novel published in English in the United States.

Thu Huong was born in 1947 and was a member of the Communist party until her writing got her expelled in the 1980s. Her writings even caused her imprisonment in 1991. Despite these challenges, she continues to publish works that challenge the political state in Vietnam.

Paradise of the Blind: A Novel
  • William Morrow Company
  • Duong Thu Huong (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 08/20/2002 (Publication Date) - William Morrow Paperbacks (Publisher)

4. Andrew X. Pham

Andrew X. Pham wrote Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam. In addition to his work as an author, Pham has worked as an aircraft engineer, technical writer, pizza chef, and many other positions. He is currently a Whiting Writer and Guggenheim Fellow.

Born in Vietnam, Pham and his family fled the country during the Vietnam War, eventually ending up in Louisiana, then California. When one of Pham’s siblings died by suicide, he traveled to Vietnam on a journey of self-discovery, which inspired his book.

Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam
  • Pham, Andrew (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 09/02/2000 (Publication Date) - Picador (Publisher)

5. Le Ly Hayslip

Le Ly Hayslip is the author of When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman’s Journey from War to Peace. This book is a memoir of her life in war-torn Vietnam as a child and teenager. Her second book, Child of War, Woman of Peace, also chronicles her experiences as a Vietnamese American.

Hayslip was born in a small Vietnamese town and was just 12 years old when the war reached her village. As a teenager, she was captured by the South Vietnamese government, faced torture, and was sentenced to death before fleeing to Saigon. Hayslip married an American contractor and moved to California as a result.

In addition to writing, she works as a humanitarian and was awarded the California State Assembly award in 1995.

When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman's Journey from War to Peace
  • Hayslip, Le Ly (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 05/30/1990 (Publication Date) - Plume (Publisher)

6. Bao Ninh

Bao Ninh is the pen name for author Hoang Au Phuong. He is the author of novels, essays, and short stories, which center on his experiences as a teenager during the Vietnam War. His most famous is his first novel, The Sorrow of War.

Ninh was just 13 years old when American bombing raids came to his country. He served in a youth brigade during the war, fighting against the American troops. He called the war a fratricide with no clear winner.

Unlike many authors on this list, he never immigrated to the United States.

The Sorrow of War: A Novel of North Vietnam
  • Riverhead Books
  • Bao Ninh (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages - 04/01/1996 (Publication Date) - Riverhead Books (Publisher)

7. Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh was a Vietnamese poet and teacher who founded the Plum Village Tradition, eventually inspiring Buddhism. His focus on mindfulness is seen throughout his poetry, and he also wrote Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire.

The main focus of Hanh’s life has been his religious work. In 1967, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. He died in early 2022 at the age of 95.

Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire: A Buddhist Proposal for Peace
  • Nhat Hanh, Thich (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 192 Pages - 08/09/2022 (Publication Date) - Parallax Press (Publisher)

8. Lan Cao

Lan Cao is a Vietnamese-American novelist and the author of Family in Six Tones, Monkey Bridge, and The Lotus and the Storm. Many of her works are autobiographical, pulling from her own experiences with war and loss.

Cao was born in Saigon in 1961. During this violent time, she found a love for reading, and over time that developed into a passion for writing. In 1975, an American officer adopted Cao and moved her to Connecticut, and eventually, her birth parents joined her in the country.

Sale
Family in Six Tones: A Refugee Mother, an American Daughter
  • Hardcover Book
  • Cao, Lan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 09/15/2020 (Publication Date) - Viking (Publisher)

9. Nguyễn Phan Que Mai

Nguyễn Phan Que Mai is an award-winning Vietnamese writer who has 11 books to her name, including non-fiction, short fiction works, and books of poetry. The Mountains Sing is an international bestseller and finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, being named the Best Book of 2020 by many sources.

Que Mai was born in a small village near Vietnam before migrating to the country when she was six. Her parents worked as teachers and rice farmers, and she worked alongside them. Eventually, she earned a scholarship to Monash University in Australia, where she earned a degree in business before returning to the United States. 

She started writing at the age of 33 and won several awards for her work, launching a successful literary career.

Sale
The Mountains Sing
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai (Author) - Quyen Ngo (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 03/17/2020 (Publication Date) - Dreamscape Media, LLC (Publisher)

10. Ocean Vuong

Ocean Vuong is a Vietnamese poet who wrote Time is a Mother and the novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. His book has been translated into 34 languages. Night Sky with Exit Wounds, his first book of poetry, won the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize and was a New York Times Top 10 Book in 2016.

Vuong was born in Saigon and was raised in Connecticut. Before attending college, he worked hard as an adolescent, earning a BA in Nineteenth-Century American Literature and an FMA in Poetry. He works as an associate professor at UMass Amherst and lives in Massachusetts.

Sale
Night Sky with Exit Wounds
  • Copper Canyon Pr
  • Vuong, Ocean (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 70 Pages - 04/05/2016 (Publication Date) - Copper Canyon Press (Publisher)

11. Thi Bui

Thi Bui is both an artist and a writer known for her illustrated works, similar to graphic novels. She writes on the theme of displacement and what it does to children and families quite often. The Best We Could Do is her most recent work, published in 2017.

Bui was born in Vietnam but made her way to the United States in 1978 with the wave of refugees that fled Southeast Asia when the war ended. The Best We Could Do won the American Book Award, among others.

You might also be interested in our guide on the best historical fiction authors.

Sale
The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir
  • Bui, Thi (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 344 Pages - 04/17/2018 (Publication Date) - Abrams ComicArts (Publisher)

12. Andrew Lam

Best Vietnamese Authors: Andrew Lam
Slowking4, GFDL 1.2 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html, via Wikimedia Commons

Born Lam Quang Dung, Andrew Lam is known as a writer and journalist, receiving the PEN/Beyond Margins Award for Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora, a collection of essays written on life for Vietnamese Americans. He also wrote a collection of short stories called Birds of Paradise Lost.

Lam left Vietnam for America during the fall of Saigon. He attended the University of California, Berkley, and majored in biochemistry. He then entered a creative writing program at San Francisco State University and began a career as a writer and journalist.

Birds of Paradise Lost
  • Lam, Andrew (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 216 Pages - 03/01/2013 (Publication Date) - Red Hen Press (Publisher)

 13. Huỳnh Sanh Thông

Huỳnh Sanh Thông translated Nguyễn Chí Thiện’s poetry collection, Flowers from Hell. His work won the 1985 Poetry International Prize and earned him a MacArthur Fellowship in 1989.

This Vietnamese American scholar was born in Vietnam in 1926 and died in Connecticut in 2008. During the Vietnam War, the French soldiers arrested him, and he was sent to a concentration camp. This prompted him to flee to the United States for political refugees, and he settled in Ohio, where he earned a University education.

Flowers from Hell/Hoa Dia-Nguc (Lac-Viet Series, No 1) (English and Vietnamese Edition)
  • Nguyen Chi Thien (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 136 Pages - 12/01/1984 (Publication Date) - Yale University Council on Southeast Asia Studies (Publisher)

14. Monique Truong

Monique Truong has several award-winning novels to her name, a children’s book, and many essays. She wrote The Book of Salt in 2003, and the book became a national bestseller and winner of several awards, including the Bard Fiction Prize and a spot on the Miami Herald’s Top 10 Books.

Truong was born in Saigon and came to the United States in 1975 as a refugee. Today, she resides in Brooklyn, contributing essays to many popular magazines.

The Book Of Salt: A Novel
  • Mariner Books
  • Truong, Monique (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 06/15/2004 (Publication Date) - Mariner Books (Publisher)

15. Aimee Phan

Aimee Phan’s first book, We Should Never Meet, won the Notable Book nomination from the Kiryama Prize in fiction. It was also a finalist for the 2005 Asian American Literary Awards.

Phan was born and raised in Orange County to Vietnamese parents, a Vietnamese American author. She earned a Bachelor of English from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Today, she is an associate professor of writing and literature at the California College of the Arts.

16. Kim Thuy

Kim Thuy is a Vietnamese-born writer who hales from Canada. Her first novel, Ru, won several awards for French-language fiction. In 2012, the English translation of the book hit the booksellers.

When Thuy was just 10 years old, she left Vietnam to flee Saigon after its fall with a boat of people. They ended up in Canada because of their French language abilities, and later Thuy was given a job as a translator.

In addition to writing, she opened a Vietnamese restaurant in Montreal to introduce the flavors of her home to her new country.

Sale
Ru: A Novel
  • Kim Thúy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 141 Pages - 11/27/2012 (Publication Date) - Bloomsbury USA (Publisher)

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