Five contemporary Vietnamese books to be translated into Japanese

Published: 31/03/2009 05:00



Female writer Do Hoang Dieu’s 15-day trip to Japan, sponsored by the Japan Foundation (JF), has just finished (each year an Asian writer is invited to talk in Japan). She talked with Sports and Culture Newspaper about this trip.

Writer Do Hoang Dieu and her Japanese colleague Hosino Tomoyuki.

What impressed you the most during this trip?

I went to four cities to talk and everywhere Japanese moved me with their enthusiasm and sentiments. I think I’m so lucky. I could not sleep after talking with female writer Takagi Nobuko in Osaka. She is 60 years old but she looks very young and she is very fine. She is very interested in Vietnamese literature. She read my books and she had very precise comments about my works, which surprised me very much.

Takaki Nobuko is a very prestigious writer, whose books are selling very well in Japan at present. I also met young writer Hoshino Tomoyuki, who was born in 1964. He has written 11 books. I think he is a good and enthusiastic writer. Many Japanese readers told me that his books are very good. But they have not been translated into Vietnamese yet. Before I left Japan, Hoshino presented me a book but I could not read it because I don’t know Japanese. I hope one day books written by the two Japanese writers will be published in Vietnam.

Do you know why the JF invited you to Japan this year?

I wondered about it. When I was in Japan, I asked the Japanese Foundation’s Chairman and readers. They smiled and said I’m modest! I was invited in person by the Japanese Foundation’s Chairman at the banquet to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Vietnam-Japan diplomatic relations and the establishment of the Japanese Cultural Exchange Centre in Vietnam. In June 2008 I received the official invitation from the JF.

Before this trip, I, the JF in Japan and the Japanese Cultural Exchange Centre in Hanoi had to do a lot of work. The Japanese Ambassador in Vietnam helped me a lot. The Japanese side prepared very thoroughly, so I cannot complain about even a small thing.

Through your trip, what did you see about Vietnamese literature in Japan?

There are a few Vietnamese books translated into Japanese. The most famous book there is still “The Sorrow of War” by Bao Ninh. There were two versions but all of them were translated from English to Japanese. When I went to Japan, the third version, which was translated from Vietnamese to Japanese, was introduced.

In addition, there are some collections of Vietnamese short stories. Ma Van Khang’s Mua La Rung Trong Vuon (Leaf Falling Season in Garden) was translated in the early 1990s. Nguyen Viet Ha’s Co Hoi Cua Chua (God’s Opportunity) is being translated and I don’t know when that work will finish.

In general, Japanese people don’t know much about Vietnamese literature. Most of them only know about Vietnam in the war and a developing Vietnam at the present. I hope that the Japanese Cultural Exchange Centre in Vietnam will be a bridge to span the two literatures and the readers of the two countries will have opportunities to enjoy really quality books of each other.

Have your short stories been translated into Japanese?

To serve this trip, professor Kato translated the two short stories “Bong De” (Incubus) and “Dong Song Hui” (Leprosy River) into Japanese.

My trip to Japan was successful partly thanks to Ms. Kato’s excellent translation of my short stories. Japanese people who can speak Vietnamese told me that these are the best translated Vietnamese works so far.

I think they are right because I was welcomed by Japanese readers who came to listen to my presentation. Japanese journalists who interviewed me said that these were sublime translations.

Were Japanese keen on the state of Japanese literature in Vietnam?

Of course. They asked who the most popular Japanese writers in Vietnam were. I said Haruki Murakami and Banana Yashimoto.

Some said that they are not the most outstanding writers in modern Japanese literature and they said there are many outstanding writers in Japan.

So the JF’s Chairman is very interested in funding the translation of really good Japanese literature works into Vietnamese in the coming time. He told me about some books that he wanted to introduce to me and Vietnamese readers. He also asked for any suggestions to help Vietnamese literature to develop, so the JF can consider them.

And what did you tell him?

I gave him some suggestions, including the translation of a collection of short stories of five contemporary writers in Vietnam into Japanese. Among them there are Nguyen Ngoc Tu and Nguyen Ngoc Thuan. He agreed.

But it is difficult to bring Vietnamese literature to Japan?

Yes, that’s right! Japanese publishing houses are not very keen on Vietnamese literature. There are also few translators, for example professor Kato and her husband, professor Imai and Professor Kawaguchi.


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