Village Teacher: Genesis


“I read this book without knowing a lot about the history of the French colonization of Vietnam and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The characters are well-drawn, the prose is sparse and to the point and suits the story very well. I would have no hesitation in recommending this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.”  Michael Kenny, August 16, 2014.

“I thoroughly enjoyed this delightful and well written book. The author is a gifted story teller. I hope he writes more books.” Thomas C. Heuerman (Minnesota), August 4, 2014.

“I loved the characters and story plot, and I’m glad I decided to give this book a read. It’s one of those whose memory will stay with me, long after I forget all the details. In my opinion, it’s a very good book.” Lisa H. Danford (Alabama), July 28, 2014.

” Village Teacher is a delightful reading. The author blends a beautiful romantic story with the Vietnamese history and culture and the French colonization influences. Throughout the book, the author tactfully incorporates other tales and carefully introduces the family, society structures of Vietnam. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Village Teacher. It’s a well-written book, I highly recommend it. Congratulation to Neihtn!” shopper “amazonshopper” (Texas), April 4, 2014.

“This engrossing historical novel is set in the days of the French colonization of Vietnam. The background historical detail appears meticulous and it is interesting reading this book for that reason alone, however there is much more here than that. This is a tale of the travails and loves of the main character during a period of turmoil.

The characters in this story are very well developed and complex and the events that intertwine them are seamlessly presented so that the story flows well. There are numerous characters who appear in a sequential manner and their side stories add to the whole of the story but do not detract from it.

I enjoyed this book for the fascinating historical and cultural perspectives as well as the dramatic fictional story. There is a definite element of suspense and about halfway through the book It became a real page turner and I could not put it down until the end.” Eric, November 25, 2013.

Village Teacher is one of the most unique and delightful love stories I have read in a very long time. Because members of my family did spend time in Viet Nam in 1964 and 1968 through 1970, I was particularly interested in a story set during a historic period prior to the Vietnam War. I knew very little about what it was like during the years of the French colonization or anything about the exam system in place at the time.

While the author does give a very complete historical backdrop of the period, it really is at heart a story about people trying to live their lives during turbulent times of change. When introduced to Teacher Tam you really cannot help but love him and the example he provides of an individual interested in what is best not just for his students but for his country, and the steadfast honesty with which he approaches everything.

The reviews I have read here address so perfectly the complexity of this story so it is difficult to add to how wonderful those reviews are. But, this is a book that is difficult to put down as the reader does become invested in the characters and wants passionately for destiny to unfold as it should in the lives of Teacher Tam and Giang. With various political factions and betrayals at play, this is by no means assured. The story is well paced and well crafted and will keep you anxious to see what the next chapter holds. I particularly enjoyed the tenderness with which the story is told and the underlying understanding of human nature, and the respect for the importance of education and the culture of Viet Nam that the story reveals.

I recommend this tender, historical love story set in Viet Nam during the French colonization without reservation!! I loved it!!Judith Ann Lovell, review published November 4, 2013 on Amazon.


Village Teacher is an interesting and informative book about life in Vietnam around the time of the French colonization. The historical facts are true to life and the tale is skilfully intertwined with history and fiction. Not only is the author’s writing method smooth and flowing, but the dialogue between the characters is equally as smooth and believable.

I found this book a delightful read, full of colourful descriptions which capture the magic of the scenery. In my opinion it also accurately represents the changing times when the Vietnamese people became tired of the bindings and oppressions the French had placed on both their people and their land.

The story follows the life of Tam , an intelligent young village teacher, who journeys far to take an examination in the capital city of Hue. After taking his final examinations, it is just a matter of time before Tam will hear if he is to stay on as a mandarin, or return to his quiet village and continue as the teacher there.

Everything seems rather simple and straightforward until one day Tam has the opportunity to save a young lady and her handmaid from a thief. The young lady, Giang, is a beautiful woman with a Vietnamese mother and a French father. Times are turbulent, and Giang’s mother is not supportive of the growing rapport between Tam and Giang. This does not stop their love from blooming, however, and Giang and Tam remain true, supporting one another in close friendship.

I thoroughly enjoyed Village Teacher, from the gentle tone of the storytelling to the tender love story and interesting historical facts.” Nicua Shamira “Shamira” (Perth, Western Australia), review published July 17, 2013 on Amazon.


Village Teacher is my first novel.  I started it four years ago and finally published it in May 2012. It took that long because, for most of the time, I could only write or do research in the evening and on weekends. Not being tied to any deadline allowed me the luxury of procrastinating and doing research and rework whenever I thought it was necessary. On the whole though, the story took shape in my mind toward the end of the first year, and from then on it was a matter of having enough time and patience to let the words flow out and the story take shape.

The novel’s chapters followed one another in an almost natural order, and I did not have to go back and add or delete any significant amount of material. After the initial draft, I did have to move some parts around to make the story easier to follow. Toward the end, I spent quite a bit of time struggling with formatting the book, first for the print version and then for the Kindle version.

Why did I write? One reason was because the examinations system in Việt Nam, even in its modern forms, had always been such a large part of everyone’s life, including those who never took part in any examination.

Many years ago, I read Lều Chõng [Tents and Pallets], a novel written by Ngô Tất Tố in 1952. In it, the author described how the main character took part in one of the last examinations under the Nguyễn dynasty at the beginning of the 20th century. I thought the ending of that novel was rushed, as if the author ran out of time and had to hurry to meet some publishing deadline.

When I started Village TeacherI noticed on my bookshelves a copy of Vietnam and the Chinese Model by Alexander Barton Woodside in which there were several chapters that dealt with the examinations system. Subsequently, I also found works by Nguyễn Thị Chân Quỳnh, Khoa cử Việt-Nam in two volumes published in 2002 and 2007. They described in even more minute details the organization of the mandarinate examinations and the more salient historical events and characters that took part in them.

With such background materials, I decided to write Village Teacher with modern and younger readers in mind, especially the young Vietnamese who, after 1975, either lived or were born in Western countries where their parents fled after the collapse of South Việt Nam. It’s my way of introducing them to a little bit of Việt Nam’s history and culture. Hopefully, more than 100 years after the last mandarinate examinations were held in Huế, this book will allow them an interesting look at a way of life that even their parents or grandparents may only be vaguely familiar with.

However, the book also has a broader appeal than just the Vietnamese diaspora. After all, it is a love story set in a historical era when East meets West, often with calamitous consequences for the former. It is an easy read and the story will get most people keenly interested in its main characters. Some readers have told me that they stayed up late at night to read it to the end. This may explain why other Asian and Western readers of Village Teacher have enjoyed it as much as my fellow Vietnamese.  See their comments in the Reviews published on Amazon, and the extensive in-depth review by Michael Delaney posted in this blog.

For those who are interested in reading the book, it is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

See also review by Angie Ibarra:

See this online interview by Audrey Chin:

66 thoughts on “Village Teacher: Genesis”

  1. Wow, Hien, you keep impressing me! Congratulations on publishing, that is so amazing! I will definitely read this book, as, since I visited Laos and Vietnam a year ago, I have become very interested in the history of those 2 countries, from before French colonisation, to communism and the atrocities of the Kmer Rouge, and then the atrocities committed by the US. I look forward to reading your book!!


  2. Wow I only just found out you wrote a book, Hien… I will definitely read it!


  3. Hello Hien,

    Great to see that your work is well received and appreciated by a lot of people.

    Looking forward to read it when I get an opportunity.

    Have a beautiful day ahead :)


  4. Neigtn, my book “Village Teacher” arrived today and upon first opening it and reading the preface and start of “The Scholar”, I am captivated. I won’t be putting down this book grabbing every chance I get to read it. I am so honored that I can say I know you through WP. Thank you for this Gift. Love, Amy


  5. I am really impressed by all the responses here, Neihtn. I will be purchasing this book as of today. It sounds fascinating, and especially so, because hubs was in Nam during the war. (((HUGS))) Amy


  6. Very cool, there is nothing better than not just creating a piece of art such as your book, but to receive such a positive and growing response and appreciation for your art. Well done on the novel and the success it has had per these reviews.


  7. Good to read all these positive reactions! Can’t wait to get to the end of the book!


  8. willow1945 said:

    Hi, your book sounds fascinating, so I just ordered the paperback version on Amazon and I look forward to reading it.


  9. Sukanya Ramanujan said:

    Sounds very interesting- I might buy the Kindle version!


  10. Hi, I have to say that I really enjoyed reading The Village Teacher. I read very few novels, and have started many that I never finished. Once I started reading, I was sure I would be finishing it. Not having a background in Asian history, I learned a lot about late 19th century Viet Nam.


  11. Gleaner Hall Ltd said:

    I just found out your book is in paperback as well as kindle.
    I’m a book kind of girl :) I hoard them!
    thanks again!


  12. Gleaner Hall Ltd said:

    I so admire writers. It’s something I wish I could do. It takes a special mind and talent to compose and write a book, like composing music. it’s a mystery to me. But I love books. And so I look forward to reading yours as well.


  13. Knowing the author for more years than I’ll admit to, I was pleasantly surprised at his literary talent. I did not have an appreciation for the history of Vietnam until I became thoroughly engrossed with the love story told in this novel. Well done, long time friend.


  14. Added to my To Be Read list! Thanks. I especially liked reading the author’s review.


  15. Congratulations on your novel! Having the courage and patience to complete an entire book is no mean task. I am sure that it must a great informative read, when authors write about things from their life the result is often promising.


  16. Dear Hien, congratulations on getting your book published! I have always wanted to visit Vietnam and South-east Asia, I will manage some day :)
    Thanks for taking the time to have a look at my posts, I’ll keep an eye out for yours!


  17. I’m on 1/3 of the book, really enjoy reading it. Thank you, Neihtn!


  18. Such a well written review of the fascinating book. Thank you so much for making thi effort to introduce the book. I am more than ready to read it!


  19. Hi there,
    I’ve just nominated you for a WordPress “Most Influential Blogger” Award. I’ll be posting my own award blog with your nomination early this evening. I just wanted to say a big thank you to you and let you know how wonderful you are. Love your posts. Please keep them coming. As always I know it can take considerable time and effort to keep our blogs going. Thanks for putting in the time so we can all enjoy it.
    KidazzleInk – Michelle Davies-Stuhmcke –


    • This is so unexpected, I don’t know what to say. I am still fairly new to blogging and there are many things that I don’t know about, such as awards. I will look into it though. In any case, I am honored, and I will certainly continue to keep this blog as deserving of your nomination as possible. Thank you so much, Michelle.


  20. Thank you for visiting and liking my blog. I have just started blogging recently and have never heard of Village Teacher but the script and the reviews sound amazing so I may have to look for the book and read it soon! Congrats on your first novel! :)


  21. I am presently reading Village Teacher and thoroughly enjoying it. Having travelled extensively in Vietnam your descriptions are recognisable. Also having Vietnamese family I am better able to understand the characterisation and cultural aspects. Thank you!


  22. I will read it right away. I have family in Vietnam


  23. Your book sounds very interesting.


  24. Wow, the book does sound very interesting from a historical as well as a literary standpoint!! My connection to VietNam is much later in time than when the French came. My father did two tours of duty in Vietnam and the second tour was as an advisor to one of the southern provinces. He was there from 1968 until 1970 that second time (1964 the first) and our family lived nearby in the Philippines so he could be with us once a month. My father loved southeast Asia and the Vietnamese people and tried to do positive things. He was also a military brat and with his parents as a young boy spent time in the Philippines, China and Japan. Interesting times always!! I will look more into this.


  25. Congratulations on your new book and thank you for taking the time to browse through my blog. I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts. Cheers! :)


  26. Congratulations on your new book.


  27. Ajaytao2010 said:

    Nice reading about you

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Be in touch. Browse through the category sections, I feel you may find something of your interest.


  28. Thank you for visiting my blog. You have some beautiful words and pics on your blog….congratulations on your book too!


  29. Thank you for all the likes today.


  30. Congratulations on publising yourfirst novel. Sounds interesting and I look forward to reading it.


  31. hello there, Hien – thank you for visiting and liking some of the posts on my blog :) much appreciated. i’ve never read a Vietnamese novel before and Village Teacher sounds like a good place to start! hope all things will go well for you :)


    • Thank you Furo-Chan for visiting my blog. If you decide to read Village Teacher, I think you’ll like it. There is some brief description of food in there, especially of the kind eaten by common folks.


  32. Your book sounds wonderful.

    Thank you for visiting my blog today. I appreciate the time you took to stop by. May your day be filled with joy and peace.


  33. Dear Hien, Thanks so much for visiting my blog. I love the premise of your novel Village Teacher. Congratulations on publishing this unusual and intriguing story. I’m looking forward to reading it. Good luck with your future writing!


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