A romantic novel by Vietnamese-French writer Nguyen Hoai Huong won the top prize at the Foire Du Livre de Bruxelles book fair in Belgium.

Entitled L'Ombre Douce (Sweet Shadow), the 156-page love story takes place in Hanoi in 1954.

Yann, an injured expeditionary soldier from the Bretagne region in France, falls in love with Mai, the Hanoian nurse who takes care of him in the hospital. As they come from different cultures, they face the harsh judgments of society in their quest to be together.

The 37-year-old author spent four years to complete her debut novel, published by Viviane Hamy in Paris, according to Vietnam News.

Huong said she was surprised to discover that the landscape of the Bretagne region looked much like Hanoi, so she decided to place her characters in those areas.

According to the head of the Prix Premiere jury, Corinne Boulangier, the emotional novel has significant literary value.

Huong said the prize encouraged her to continue her writing career.

The author, whose parents moved to live in France in the 1970s, currently holds a doctorate in modern literature.

Founded in 2007, the Prix Premiere is given to a selected debut French-language novel every year. Twenty candidates vied for the prize this year.-VNA