A nude photo collection was deleted from the list for Vietnam Book Awards 2009 Thursday although it was previously mentioned as a gold prize winner.
Thai Phien, author of the Xuan thi (Springtime) collection gathering 71 nude photos, was quoted by newswire Dan Tri as saying, "The name of my book was hidden when the list of awarded books was released to the press on Thursday. I don't know why."
Phien said that Nguyen Duc Binh, director of Van Nghe (Arts) Publishing House that published the collection, had on Tuesday informed him that an official decision from the Vietnam Publication Association said his book would receive a consolation prize.
"A month ago, a member from the Board of Judges who I cannot name told me that Springtime has been chosen for a golden prize. But now it even does not even get a consolation prize."
Nguyen Kiem, chairman of the Vietnam Publication Association, said the judges had given careful consideration before deciding to give Springtime the consolation award for the "Beautiful book" category.
"But right after we made the list, we received an objection from the authorities that the collection must not be circulated widely as an association award winner."
Kiem said a book can only be awarded if it doesn't violate the award rules or receive negative comments from the authorities.
He added, however, that the association will continue considering the case until the awarding ceremony that will be held on Sunday at the Temple of Literature in Hanoi.
Phien expressed disappointment with the developments, saying "beauty was not valued."
Springtime, comprising selections from 15 years of Phien's works in nude photography, was published bilingually (Vietnamese and English) in December 2007.
The country's first nude art photo album received a prize from Vietnam Association of Photographic Artists and was chosen by the Voice of Ho Chi Minh City radio station as one of the 10 cultural events of 2008.
While nude photos have been shown occasionally in Vietnamese publications, Confucian traditions are still strong and photographers engaged in the art have had to face social prejudice.
There have only been six nude photographers in Vietnam, and one of these was killed several years ago by a model's fiancé.
"I feel like a thief sometimes, taking photographs stealthily with models in a hotel room with ears cocked, apprehensive of someone knocking. Under such pressure, it's hard to be creative," Phien said when the book was launched.
This year's "Beautiful book" category will have three gold, seven silver, 15 bronze and 11 consolation awards while the "Best Book" category will have two gold, nine silver, 15 bronze and 11 consolation prizes, the judges said.
One book will receive a special award. This year, the winner of this award is a history book titled 1000 Years of Thang Long Culture and Literature.