HCM CITY — French author and adventurer Gontran de Poncins’ Chợ Lớn 1955 (titled in English ‘From a Chinese City’), a book on the Old Quarter— known as Chợ Lớn (Big Market) in Saigon (HCM City now), was released on August 1.
The 320-page book is translated into Vietnamese by Phan Xính Linh and has been published by the HCM City-based Phụ Nữ (Women) Publishing House.
It features the people, culture and lifestyle of Chợ Lớn in 1955.
Traditional architecture, streets, shops, markets, customs and daily life of the ethnic Hoa people (Vietnamese of Chinese origin) are also included.
The book also includes many sketches by the writer.
Gontran de Poncins was born in 1900 in southeast France. He had many jobs and travelled many places around the world.
He wrote many articles and books featuring his trips and adventures.
He released Kabloona in 1938, a story of his journey to the North. The book is acclaimed as one of the great books of adventure, travel, anthropology, and spiritual awakening.
In 1955, he moved to live in the Sun Wah Hotel in Chợ Lớn in South Việt Nam. Two years later, he released From a Chinese City, a book on Chợ Lớn.
He died in 1962 in Provence.
Chợ Lớn lies on the west bank of the Sài Gòn River. It includes the western half of District 5 (former Chinatown) and several adjoining neighborhoods in District 6.
Around 440,000 Chinese living in Chợ Lớn account for 4 per cent of the city’s population.
Their traditional festivals, calligraphy, dragon dance, architecture and lifestyle attract foreign and local tourists.
According to Lam Điền, a book reviewer of Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper, Gontran de Poncins’ Chợ Lớn 1955 will be a useful resource for regular readers along with historians and culture researchers. — VNS