Vietnamese writer Bui Ngoc Tan won the grand prize at the French literature festival Livre&Mer (Book&Sea) for his novel Bien va Chim Boi Ca (The Sea and the Kingfisher).

The book, which was translated into French by Ha Tay and called La Mer et Le Martin-Pecheur, beat five other books in the final round.

Published by the Vietnam Writers Association Publishing House in 2009, the book documents the life of Vietnamese fishermen working for a State-owned fishing enterprise, where life is a constant struggle to make ends meet.

"With his beautiful poetic prose, Bui Ngoc Tan brings us to where we have never been, and when we close the book, we are changed and for the best," says the festival's website.

Born in 1934 in Hai Phong City , Tan began writing for periodicals and newspapers at the age of 20.

The French version of his award-winning book La Mer et le Martin-Pecheur was published by Aube Publishing House last year. This is his second published novel. Une vie de Chien (Unlucky Life) came out in 2007.

The festival Livre&Mer was launched in 1985 by Henri Queffelec (1910-92), considered one of the best maritime novelists of the 20th century writing in French.

The 28th festival awards will be presented on April 6 in Concarneau city, in the west of France . Translator Ha Tay will receive the prize on behalf of Tan.-VNA