Serbian writer wins Vietnam’s prestigious award for novel about Hanoi

(VOVWORLD) - “Phố Nhà Thờ” (Church street), a novel by Serbian writer Marko Nikolic, was granted the Bui Xuan Phai award “For the love of Hanoi”. The novel’s first pages about Hanoi surprise readers with the author’s love and understanding of Hanoi as well as his Vietnamese ability. Marko Nikolic is the first foreign writer to publish a novel in Vietnamese.
Serbian writer wins Vietnam’s prestigious award for novel about Hanoi - ảnh 1Marko Nikolic's novel “Phố Nhà Thờ” receives the Bui Xuan Phai ward "For the love of Hanoi". (Photo:

Marko Nikolic, 32 years old, has been teaching English in Hanoi since 2014. He started writing books when he was 14 and published two books in Europe. While living in Hanoi, he found that life here is different from what he thought.

He wrote short stories about Hanoi in Vietnamese, and then a novel.

“I spent one year thinking of what I would write. It took another half a year to finish the book. I read about 50 to 60 books about Hanoi. I could write only 1 page every day,” said Marko.

Serbian writer wins Vietnam’s prestigious award for novel about Hanoi - ảnh 2Cover of the book “Phố Nhà Thờ” (Church street).

“Phố Nhà Thờ” (Church street) was made public in September, 2019. It describes the author’s experience in Hanoi and comparisons with East-West culture.

When he first arrived in Hanoi, he fell in love with St. Joseph Cathedral, often called the Grand Church by locals, and the street of the same name. He often wanders alone along the street or meets his friends at some coffee shops there. The young man wrote about his experience, the city’s old streets and buildings as a filming location of historic, romantic stories.

“I talk about life of a stranger in Hanoi. I don’t describe Vietnam’s society and land but share my personal stories and expats’ experience in Vietnam, for example love of a foreigner and a Vietnamese and their disagreements.”

In the 300-page book, Marko Nikolic demonstrates a rich vocabulary in Vietnamese, including idioms and proverbs, as well as efforts to explore and decode local culture, both nice and not nice things.

Editor Nguyen Hoang Dieu Thuy of Nha Nam Publishing House said “Phố Nhà Thờ” talks about observations and experiences of a foreign man in a natural, colorful, and humorous way.

“Marko presents a natural and lively Vietnamese. He fluently uses Vietnamese and creates a relaxed tone,” said Thuy.

There are many novels, autobiographies, and travel stories about Hanoi, but “Phố Nhà Thờ” by Marko conveys a different experience and feeling. Marko said it is his love and understanding of Hanoi, streets, cafes, shops, and local dishes.

Marko said he is working on another book about a foreigner and his unique views of Vietnam.