“Exporting” Vietnamese literature, or promoting it to the world, seems to be the responsibility of agencies like the Vietnam Writer’s Association. Why did Chibooks decide to take this difficult job?
It is true that promoting our literature in other countries may not seem to be our responsibility. Yet I have realized that there are too few Vietnamese novels and stories translated into foreign languages and published abroad.
Chibooks mainly publishes foreign literary works in Vietnam, but we are also interested in bridging cultures and exploring new markets for our literature. To my knowledge, publishers have yet to realize the potential of Vietnamese works that haven’t been invested in.
Why did you choose the writers you signed with?
First Chibooks wants to introduce a number of Vietnamese contemporary writers covering a variety of literary subjects and genres. The writers that we chose are familiar and well-known names who have their own positions and are well-received by both critics and readers.
Most of the works we opted for are well-known works that represent the personal style of these writers. Through these works we hope to promote our country, people, our mental psyche and the changes in our modern society to foreign readers.
Which markets are you aiming to promote these works in?
Both Asian countries like China, Japan, and South Korea as well as Western markets including the US and the UK.
How long do you think it will take to advertise and market these works abroad?
It will take at least 1 – 2 years to market for them and for other preparation work, including printing out catalogues of Vietnamese literatures featuring writers and their works in different languages. We will also attend more international book festivals to find more chances to sell these titles.
How will these books translated into foreign languages?
We will hire experienced translators who have experience in translating Vietnamese works for this project. We will also have foreign linguists who excel in Vietnamese edit and review the translations before putting them in our catalogue. When our partners agree to purchase the works, they will find translators for themselves, but we will be ready to support them if we are asked to.
Chibooks have signed with nearly 20 Vietnamese writers to represent their works abroad.
Among them are Bui Anh Tuan, whose 14 novels were purchased by Chibooks, followed by female writer Phan Hon Nhien with 8 works, as well as Vu Dinh Giang, Tran Nha Thuy and Duong Binh Nguyen.
Bui Anh Tan has commented that efforts to “export” Vietnamese culture abroad by private business like Chibooks should be encouraged.