HA NOI - Foreign and domestic delegates yesterday discussed a strategy to promote Vietnamese literature overseas at two workshops held in Ha Noi.
The Viet Nam Writers' Association's International Conference to Introduce Vietnamese Literature held the workshops, where writers and poets expressed their opinions about Vietnamese literature. They also said they would bring Vietnamese literary works to their countries.
"We have translated and published essentially and systematically the most distinguished works in regional and world literature," said poet Nguyen Huu Thinh, president of the association and chairman of the conference.
"This reality has taken place throughout many decades, and has resulted in a cultural trade deficit. While many foreign works have been brought to Vietnamese readers, foreign readers haven't had a chance to enjoy Vietnamese literature as widely."
Thinh said Viet Nam shouldn't only consume world literature - it should participate in it.
"I believe that when Viet Nam wants to know about the world, the world also has a need to understand Viet Nam," he said.
Translator Le Ba Thu, who has translated many novels from Polish to Vietnamese, said Vietnamese authors often wondered why their works never reached foreign readers. World literature integration should be bilateral, he said.
"In my opinion, there are three types of translators who can help promote Vietnamese literature abroad," Thu said.
"There are Vietnamese translators in the country and abroad, and foreign translators. Foreign translators who are fluent in Vietnamese can be ideal for this mission. They mastered their language. They know the tastes of their countries' readers and can choose suitable works."
Thu said the Government should work on bringing more foreign students to Viet Nam to study.
"One day, among hundreds or thousands of foreign students, there will be someone who is interested in Vietnamese literature and naturally, they will read their favourite books to satisfy themselves firstly and then translate and introduce them to other people," Thu said.
Chinese translator Zhu Yang-xiu has translated many Vietnamese works into Chinese. He said that although Viet Nam has many outstanding authors, readers across the world haven't had a chance to enjoy it all.
"Some literary works bear the beauty and identity of Vietnamese language and grammar," he said.
"Foreign translators find it difficult to translate and transfer the author's attitude, no matter how fluent in Vietnamese they are. And since Google was shut down in China, we find it very difficult to find Vietnamese works on the internet."
Russian translator Igor Britov said he loves Viet Nam and wants to inspire other Russians to understand and love Vietnamese culture and literature.
"Based on a referendum, Russian readers prefer detective and action genres to love stories and fiction," Britov said.
He said he tried to find all classic novels about islands last year. Examples include Jules Verne's The Mysterious Islands, Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Robert Stevenson's Treasure Island and To Hoai's Dao Hoang (Deserted Island).
"In my opinion, the novel from Viet Nam isn't less attractive than the others," Britov said.
"It has an interesting plot, fascinating details and information about the country's history and culture. Why don't we republish the novel in Russia?"
"President Vladimir Putin announced this year would be a Year of Literature for the country. It's a chance for Vietnamese literature to thrive in Russia. This year will also mark the 95th birthday of writer To Hoai. People in my country love anniversaries, so it's a favourable time to republish the novel."
The international conference is heading the right direction. After each event, the number of world writers and translators who come to Viet Nam and the number of Vietnamese works published overseas increase.
The Centre for Translation was established at the Viet Nam Writers' Association.
Thinh said the centre will work with foreign partners to promote Vietnamese literature overseas.