Chi­nese lit­er­a­ture scores a hit with Viet­namese

China Daily (Canada) - - XI’S VISITS - ByWANG JIAN in Hanoi and ZHAO YANRONG in Bangkok

Of all the for­eign in­flu­ences in Viet­nam, there is plenty of ev­i­dence that Chi­nese cul­ture is among the strong­est.

Many of the ma­jor book­stores in­Hanoi, for ex­am­ple, dis­play their se­lec­tion of trans­lated Chi­nese lit­er­a­ture in the most cov­eted, high­pro­file spots. The study of the Chi­nese lan­guage is in­creas­ing, cour­ses at Viet­namesec­ol­leges are crowded with stu­dents and al­most all uni­ver­si­ties have es­tab­lished Chi­nese fac­ul­ties. Ad­di­tion­ally, Chi­nese lan­guage con­tests are swamped with hun­dreds of com­peti­tors, and thou­sands of Viet­namese stu­dents take ex­change trips to China each year.

Bi­lat­eral re­la­tions and po­lit­i­cal ties may have ex­pe­ri­enced­some­up­sand­downs in re­cent years, but Chi­nese cul­ture is gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity, es­pe­cially with the younger gen­er­a­tion.

At a book­shop on Dinh Le, a cen­tral Hanoi lo­ca­tion known as “Book Street”, Chi­nese books, both clas­si­cal lit­er­a­ture­an­dro­man­tic nov­els, are promi­nently dis­played on a large shelf near the en­trance. Clas­sic mul­ti­vol­ume epics, in­clud­ing Out­laws of the Marsh and Ro­mance of the Three King­doms, sell well to cus­tomers of all ages, said a staff mem­ber iden­ti­fied only as Thanh.

Viet­namese read­ers choose th­ese books be­cause they are in­ter­ested in sto­ries of brave and chival­rous men, while older read­ers are re­turn­ing to the books they read and en­joyed many years ear­lier, Thanh said.

It is not just the his­tor­i­cal clas­sics that are pop­u­lar, said one of the book­store’s man­agers.

“Sales of works byChi­nese con­tem­po­rary and mod­ern writ­ers, in­clud­ing Mo Yan and Lu Xun, are also sta­ble, un­like ro­man­tic nov­els whichare ‘hot’ only just af­ter they have been pub­lished,” the man­ager said.

In re­cent years, a num­ber of on­line Chi­nese lit­er­a­ture sites have helped to in­form and at­tract a new group of read­ers from Viet­nam. To get around the lan­guage bar­rier, they use on­line trans­la­tion tools to learn about a book’s contents, and then seek out trans­lated edi­tions.

From 2009 to 2013, a to­tal of 841 Chi­nese book ti­tles were trans­lated and pub­lished in Viet­namese. Of those, 617 ti­tles were pub­lished only on­line.

One of the best-known trans­la­tors of Chi­nese lit­er­a­ture in Viet­nam, Nguyen Thi Minh Thuong, a lec­turer at HanoiNa­tion­alUniver­sity of Ed­u­ca­tion, said on­line-only Chi­nese lit­er­a­ture is par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar among young read­ers be­cause of its en­ter­tain­ing sto­ries.

“But the lit­er­ary qual­ity and artistry are de­bat­able,” she said.

One of Nguyen’s lat­est ef­forts, the Viet­namese trans­la­tion of Yan Lianke’s Hard As Wa­ter, re­cently won an award from a writ­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion in Hanoi. Yan is a global prizewin­ning author from China, al­though this was the first time he had been rec­og­nized in Viet­nam.

“There are many great hon­ored au­thors and nov­els in Chi­nese mod­ern lit­er­a­ture who have not been in­tro­duced to Viet­nam yet. I hope to in­tro­duce more award-win­ning ti­tles from China to Viet­nam in the fu­ture,” Nguyen said.

Con­tact the writer at wangjian@chi­nadaily.

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