Hanoi meet seeks to find what was lost in translation

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Authors and translators from many countries will gather at a conference in Hanoi next month to promote Vietnamese literature.

The first conference of this kind was organized five years ago with around 25 foreign guests, but according to poet Tran Dang Khoa, head of the Vietnam Writer's Association's publicity department, the conference next month "is the first international conference on translating Vietnamese works.

"The lack of good translations has caused many major authors of the world to become normal men in Vietnam and vice versa, many of our quintessential [aspects] become foolish overseas," Khoa was quoted by Vietnamnet as saying.

This is the second international conference that seeks to promote Vietnamese literature and to help foreign translators, researchers and publishers understand the history and value of Vietnamese works, the Vietnam Writers' Association said at a press briefing Tuesday.

The event has been awaited by local authors as a great opportunity to make Vietnamese literature better known internationally.

Lasting for six days from Jan.5 at the My Dinh National Conference Center, the event has invited 108 representatives from 32 other countries, 8 foreign publishers, 34 translators of Vietnamese works and more than 100 translators of foreign works into Vietnamese.

Prominent among them are: Vietnamese contemporary translators Cao Viet Dung and Tran Tien Cao Dang; American poet Kevin Bowen who runs a center translating Vietnamese poems; Larry Heinemann, a Chicago author who wrote the Paco Story, a novel about the Vietnam War and studies Vietnam folk literature; and John Balaban, a professor at Miami University known in the US for his translations of Vietnam folk verses, local newswire Vietnamnet said Wednesday.

Discussions at the conference will cover four main topics - ancient Vietnamese literature, contemporary Vietnamese prose and poetry and young Vietnamese writers.

The conference hopes to offer a comprehensive view of Vietnamese literature, prepare the ground for choosing Vietnamese works and authors to be promoted further, and resolve copyright troubles faced by local publishers.

An exhibition on Vietnam's literary heritage will be held at the National Library on Trang Thi street in Hanoi during the conference.

A similar conference will be held in 2015, Huu Thinh, chairman of the association, said.

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