ON THE ROAD WITH ANN – Encountering censorship

I leave for the airport in a couple hours, en route to Spain, for the Camino trip. I go directly from there to Vietnam.

In selecting literature to discuss in Vietnam, I consulted a professor of Vietnamese literature who teaches in California. We soon discovered, from our tour operator in Vietnam, that the first book he recommended, by a North Vietnamese woman, was banned.

A new book came out shortly after that, written by a Toronto physician, centring on the lives of the ethnic Chinese population in Saigon during the war years. Vincent Lam’s The Headmaster’s Wager has been widely acclaimed and has recently been short-listed for the Governor General Award for Literature. I thought it unlikely we would have any problems with this book but decided it would be wise to check. Having heard nothing, I assumed all was fine. This morning, an email arrived stating,

“In order to avoid any inconvenience might happened to clients and us, I regret to inform you that clients should not bring this booking to Vietnam as it is not established in Vietnam and it’s concerned with war in Vietnam. Please help to advise clients accordingly.”

I imagine we may be able to talk about this book when in our private discussion room on the Mekong River. We do have other approved stories we will discuss.

When in India last year, we were encouraged to be discrete about when and where we talked about Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children.

I highly recommend both books.

You may wish to read the charter of PEN International.

Must finish packing.


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