The award recognizes an author whose work constitutes, in a scientific or literary form, "a message of modern humanism." In particular, Trinh's work is cited for its success in communicating to the public the beauty and harmony of the universe, according to the prize notification letter. Some of the previous winners include Andrei Sakharov, Jorge Luis Borges, William Styron, Vaclav Havel, Mario Vargas Llosa and Milan Kundera.
Trinh said he was "honored and humbled" to be in the company of such luminaries. "This recognition is indeed very heart-warming for me," he said. "It is an encouragement for me to pursue further this line of work."
He will receive the prize on June 6 at the Institut de France in Paris.
Born and raised in Vietnam and educated in French schools in Vietnam and in U.S. universities (California Institute of Technology and Princeton University), Trinh writes in French, and has published 11 books, some of them best-sellers in France. Several have been translated into English and other languages.
His academic research is focused on the evolution of galaxies and the chemical composition of the universe.
For his popular science writing, he was also awarded the UNESCO Kalinga Prize in 2009 and the Grand Prix Moron of the Academie Francaise in 2007.
His books include "Dictionary of the Lover of the Sky and the Stars" (2009),"The Ways of Light" (2007), "The Quantum and the Lotus" (2001), "Chaos and Harmony" (2000), "The Secret Melody" (1995) and "Birth of the Universe" (1993).
In 1975, Simone Del Duca established the Simone and Cino Del Duca Foundation for a variety of philanthropic purposes, and it assumed responsibility for the award. Following her death in 2004, the foundation was placed under the auspices of the Institut de France, an umbrella organization of academic societies.