Suspended book on Vietnamese slang released on Amazon

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After being withdrawn from local bookstores last month for its alleged racy content and possibly offensive language, a comedic picture book depicting local youth slang is having its e-version released internationally.

Under a publishing transfer between Vietnam-based Nha Nam and Fine Arts Publishing Houses and California-based Indochine Media Inc, the ebook of Sat thu dau mung mu (Killer with a soft head) is being sold on Amazon for US$7.99.

In an interview with VTC News on Nov 8, Vu Hoang Giang, vice director of Nha Nam, said that the book's publishing in the overseas market was planned and signed with the foreign partner before it was officially released in Vietnam. As a result, it is not illegal to release the book abroad.

"From what I know, it is legal to publish book to abroad without permission from local government," said Giang, who also clarified that it is incorrect to say that the book was withdrawn.

Its publishing has been suspended, he said, adding, "We are still waiting for the final decision from the Ministry of Information and Communications' Publishing Department."

The book fortunately has been supported by the department for re-publishing in the local market, said Giang.

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Literary critic Pham Xuan Nguyen said, "I appreciate the book more than works whose content and language are poor and dried up, for its rich, refreshing language."

The picture book is made up of around 120 witty illustrations of rhyming urban street slang, adapted from original folk idioms and proverbs.

The book, illustrated by artist Thanh Phong, who won the Special Jury Prize at the 2011 Asian Youth Animation & Comics Contest, has so far been loved and hated.

The author has been criticized by some people who say he has debauched the Vietnamese language and created a cheap reflection of an "uncultured" lifestyle of local youth.

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