Wearing an elegant tweed jacket and sipping fruit juice in a Left Bank cafe here, the writer Duong Thu Huong hardly cuts a threatening figure. But Ms. Huong, 58, evidently does in her native Vietnam, where she has spent time in jail, has seen her books banned and for 11 years was denied a passport to travel abroad.
Her sins, it seems, are many. Her novels dissecting life under one of the last Communist regimes are published and well received in the West. She is a former Communist Party member who was expelled as a traitor. And above all, she is a dissident – a “dissident whore,” one party leader said – who refused to be silenced even after spending eight months in prison in 1991.