Soldier's tale wins foreign fiction award

A NOVEL by a former soldier in the North Vietnamese Army, The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh, is the winner of this year's Independent Award for Foreign Fiction, it was announced yesterday.

The pounds 10,000 prize - divided between Bao Ninh and his translators - was presented by Andreas Whittam Smith, editor of the Independent, during a reception at the Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye. The award is in its fourth year.

The pounds 10,000 prize - divided between Bao Ninh and his translators - was presented by Andreas Whittam Smith, editor of the Independent, during a reception at the Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye. The award is in its fourth year.

The Sorrow of War is a description of the Vietnam war. Bao Ninh was born in Hanoi in 1952 and served with the Glorious 27th Youth Brigade.

Announcing the award, Robert Winder, Literary Editor of the Independent, said: 'The Sorrow of War is both remarkable and historic. Usually, history is the story told by the winners; Bao Ninh's book reminds us that, in war, everybody loses.'

The other books on the shortlist were: The Infinite Plan by Isabel Allende, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden; The Following Story by Cees Nooteboom, translated by Ina Rilke; Fima by Amos Oz, translated by Nicholas de Lange; The Moment Between the Past and the Future, by Grigorij Baklanov, translated by Catherine Porter; The Road to San Giovanni by Italo Calvino, translated by Tim Parks.

The judges were Michele Roberts, Jill Neville, Anthony Lane, Beverly Anderson, Jonathan Keates, Blake Morrison, Penelope Fitzgerald, Michael Wood, Natasha Walter, Trevor McDonald, Doris Lessing and Robert Winder.

The Sorrow of War was translated into French by Vo Bang Thanh and Phan Thanh Hao, with Katerina Pierce. The English version is by Frank Palmos.

The Independent Award is in its fourth year. Previous winners include Milan Kundera, Simon Keys and Jose Saramago.

(Photograph omitted)

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