Vietnamese novel to be published in Korean, Thai and English

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Nguyen Nhat Anh's hit novel Cho toi xin mot ve di tuoi tho (Give me a ticket to childhood) will hit the shelves in Korean, Thai and even US bookstore this year.

Anh has already signed publishing contracts for translated versions of his work with Thailand's Nammeebooks, Britain's Hannacroix Creek Books and Korea's Dasan Books. The first two companies have said they would release the novel this year, while the Korean firm is yet to set a date.

The novel, first published in 2008, deals with a grown man's memories of his childhood fantasies. It won the Southeast Asian Writers' award last year.

Anh said the novel was inspired from a quote in Robert Rojdesvensky's poem called "Childhood City."

It is not the first time that Anh's books have been published abroad. In 2003, his short novel Mat biec (Blue eyes) was translated and published in Japan.

This time, the 56-year-old author said, Thai and Japanese publishers had contacted him about getting the book published in their languages, while he himself got in touch with the US publisher.

"I collaborated with translator Mai Son and negotiated to publish the book in the US. It is like marketing research. If a US publisher accepts your work after their detailed checks, you can be confident of the quality of your work."

Anh said besides the Berne Convention, copyright laws in the US are complicated, especially in publishing.

"The contracts I have signed in Asia are similar to the ones in Vietnam, but they are totally different from the US. It takes a long time for a writer to study its laws and negotiate an unlimited time contract, instead of the five-year Asian ones" said Anh.

Anh also said that local publishers usually do not feel confident that local works can make money in foreign markets.

"Most books printed and published abroad are based on cultural sponsorship or non-governmental funds. The limited investment available, the difficulty in finding a reliable translator and the high cost of translation prevent local writers and publishers from conquering overseas markets" said Anh.

The release of Anh's novel in Bangkok this August will be part of the 35th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Thailand and Vietnam. Its English edition will be introduced at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October and go on sale during the year-end season.

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