The Image of “Opening and Changing” Vietnam in Thai Contemporary Fiction Books
As Thailand and Vietnam have long had mutual relations, there are a number of Thai books written about Vietnam, including academic and historical documents, travelogues, novels, and short stories. This paper examines works of contemporary Thai fiction to present a new and outstanding image of Vietnam in a Thai perception – an “opening and changing” country – from factual data and from literary textual analysis. First, it provides readers with the socio-historical background of the Renovation Era of Vietnam after 1986 and the Thai-Vietnamese relationship. Next, the main part explains how the image of “opening and changing” Vietnam is portrayed through four aspects: (1) physical changes in landscape, cityscape, and economic development; (2) changes
in lifestyle and traditions; (3) openness in political views and international relations; and (4) changes in social structures and values. Lastly, the paper will discuss the novelty of this image compared with that of earlier Thai literature and other contemporary books, as well as the factors contributing to this image. Overall, the image of Vietnam in transition is not static but has developed dynamically from the early phase to the later stage of the reform process. Images of a “changing and opening” Vietnam portrayed in Thai contemporary fiction reflect the changes of Vietnam itself, the development of Thai-Vietnamese relations, and the Thai perception of Vietnam under a new historical context.