Vietnamese writer promotes local literature at French book fair

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The annual French book fair in Paris features three Vietnamese contemporary Vietnamese authors for the first time March.

Previously on March 18 and 19, three Vietnamese authors including Thuan, Nguyen Viet Ha and Do Khiem did have meetings which introduced their work at The French National Book Center, the Paris-based National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO) and Le Phénix bookstore.

Doan Cam Thi, Ph.D. in Literature of INALCO, is the one who makes those three Vietnamese authors known in France. Thi also submits Riveneuve publisher to open a category called "Vietnam's contemporary literature" which presents Vietnamese contemporary writers' works.

Thi told The Thao Van Hoa Newspaper that the idea of promoting her homeland colleagues to the French publisher encounters lots of barriers.

"Two biggest struggles are the translation level and commercial relating to selling the books" she said.

"Although the Vietnam has a big expat community in France, but not many French acknowledges about Vietnamese literature. The translators who are fluent in French and Vietnamese are scarce, too"

"And translation is not only about decoding the language, it requires a degree in literary grasping. All of these problems will lead to the difficulties in selling Vietnamese work in France"

"Our Vietnamese literature has not developed in France and generally, European market. It cannot get into the race with other countries' literary work. That's why many publishers I met said no about opening a category for Vietnamese books"

Thi admits that introducing a Vietnamese work means taking a risk in France.

"There are around 2,000 titles, primarily novels, published in France annually. So if your book remains on shelf for three months, it will be eliminated. No place for loser" she said.

Among the three authors Thuan, Ha and Khiem, Thuan is Thi's twin sister.

But Thi said it is not the reason for promoting Thuan.

"The value of a writer lies in his work" she said.

Thi said that Khiem, who is still unpopular author in Vietnam, is considered as a trailblazer in contemporary literature and highly appreciated by both national and oversea writer community.

Thi said she and her group of translators are working on writers Phong Diep's "Blogger," Nguyen Binh Phuong's "Thoai Ky Thuy," Thuan's "Paris 11 thang 8," Vu Dinh Giang "˜s"Song Song" and Nguyen Danh Lam's "Giua dong chay lac."

"We are also heading to some other authors" she said.

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