“Explore The Rich Cultural Heritage of Hanoi with Writer To Hoai”

The Hanoitimes - On the 100th anniversary of the writer To Hoai's birthday (1920 - 2020), Kim Dong Publishing House held a seminar titled "To Hoai - Writers of all ages". The seminar is an opportunity for writers and poets nationwide to exchange and share new perspectives on the career of writer To Hoai.


“Old Hanoi man”

To Hoai is a prominent figure in modern Vietnamese literature. Born Nguyen Sen on September 27, 1920, in Nghia Do village, Hoai Duc district, former Ha Dong province (now Nghia Do ward, Cau Giay district, Hanoi), he spent his entire life in this area. To Hoai is often referred to as “the old man of Hanoi,” representing the intellectuals of the capital city and witnessing the city’s ups and downs over the past century. His pen name, To Hoai, is a combination of the names of two famous landmarks in old Hanoi: the To Lich River and Hoai Duc Palace district.

12 editions of “Adventures of a cricket” by writer To Hoai

To Hoai’s literary works strongly reflect the identity of Hanoi. His initial writings in various magazines quickly gained recognition from readers. He established his position and prestige with unique works such as “Con de men” (The cricket), later renamed “De men phieu luu ky” (Adventures of a cricket) – one of his most popular works, “Que nguoi” (Homeland of others), “O Chuot” (Ms. Mouse), and “Nha ngheo” (The poor). Many readers familiar with Hanoi know his book “Chuyen cu Ha Noi” (Old Stories of Hanoi), published in 1986, which delves into the old Hanoi with its thirty-six ancient streets, trading streets and villages, markets, trams, “Saigon Nem” (spring rolls), “Cha Ca” (fried fish), and more. It offers a rich collection of memories about Hanoi by To Hoai.

In a recent seminar, attendees had the opportunity to admire 20 portraits of To Hoai by photographer Nguyen Dinh Toan and immerse themselves in the world of “the cricket” through paintings by domestic and foreign artists. Additionally, there was a “To Hoai Reading Week” held from September 21 to 27 on the fanpage of Kim Dong Publishing House and Kim Dong Kids, targeting readers who appreciate To Hoai’s works.

In celebration of this anniversary, Kim Dong Publishing House has released 21 works by To Hoai, including previously unpublished ones. Deputy Director and Editor-in-Chief of Kim Dong Publishing House, Vu Thi Quynh Lien, expressed gratitude towards the author for his significant influence on the country’s literature and arts. Notably, “Adventures of a cricket” has been translated into 30 different languages and circulated worldwide. This time, readers will also have access to 12 different editions of the book.

Among these editions, one stands out for being illustrated by the young painter Dau Dua. She is the first female artist to illustrate the book, having completed it as her university graduation project in 2014. With a love for the book nurtured since childhood, her illustrations offer a modern interpretation, different from previous generations of artists with a more stylized approach to drawing.

Even after nearly a century, To Hoai’s works continue to be widely read and praised by readers. The literary legacy left behind by the “Hanoi Old Man” will undoubtedly be carried on by future generations in various ways, ensuring that these works endure in the hearts of literary enthusiasts.

In 2005, To Hoai granted Kim Dong Publishing House the copyrights to all his works. Recently, his family has continued to authorize the publication and promotion of his works for adult readers.