HCMC school sparks controversy over Vietnamese-American author's 'pornographic' novel

By Le Nguyen   May 2, 2024 | 11:38 pm PT
HCMC school sparks controversy over Vietnamese-American author's 'pornographic' novel
The Vietnamese translation of "On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous" by Ocean Vuong. Photo courtesy of Nha Nam
An international school in HCMC was mired in controversy after handing out Ocean Vuong's novel "On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous" to students, with parents upset by the book's "pornographic" content.

A post on an online group for parents at the International School Ho Chi Minh City (ISHCMC) on Thursday said that a teacher at the school handed out the Vietnamese-American author's novel to an 11th grader before last month.

The writer of the post said they were "flabbergasted" to see the content of the book.

"I'm so angry that my body shakes. I cannot understand how the school designed its curriculum, how qualified their teachers are, to choose such a work with depraved words and pornographic content to teach their students," the post read.

The post also contained photos of certain pages of the novel, depicting sexual acts between two boys.

Over 200 comments could be found underneath the post, with the majority saying the content was inappropriate to be taught to students.

The school on Thursday said it has received information that some 11th graders have received the "On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous" novel, translated from English to Vietnamese, with content that "may not be appropriate for students."

A representative of the school said the novel was part of a list of reference reading, which contained works in many different languages, including Vietnamese. The list was introduced by the International Baccalaureate program.

"However, after receiving parents’ concerning feedback regarding the work, the school has reclaimed the copies and is evaluating the process of recommending works to students," the representative said.

"On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous" is Ocean Vuong’s debut novel, and was nominated for a host of prestigious awards.

Its Vietnamese translation was published in 2021.

The ISHCMC was established in 1993 as the first international school in HCMC.

go to top