Blog of Hai Di Nguyen. Filmmaker, Norwegian citizen, originally from Vietnam, currently based in Leeds.
i guess you speak Vietnamese... it must be amazing, being bilingual like that; i tried very hard to learn Spanish once, without much luck; truly admire multi-lingual people...
Vietnamese is my first language. What can I say. It's certainly interesting to read this book as a Vietnamese- I, for example, recognise all the names that don't mean much to most foreigners, such as Trịnh Công Sơn, Khánh Ly, Phạm Duy..., and also recognise less obvious references that I think foreigners have no clue about, like Hoàng Cơ Minh's organisation. And to read Viet Thanh Nguyen's translations of words, phrases or sentences with which I've always been familiar in Vietnamese feels as though I'm part of a private joke. Also, speaking English, I'm now reading the original whilst some of my friends are waiting for the translation. I also read Norwegian. But I wish I were better.
Still, I'm 1 of the mediocre ones. You're a native speaker of English so it's understandable that you didn't feel strongly motivated to speak another language. I have great admiration for people who can speak another language as well as their own mother tongue.
i'm ignorant about Vietnamese; are translations available? in the u.s.?
I wouldn't know what's available in the US. Nor do I have a full list of Vietnamese books that have been translated.But here's a list, for example:http://vietnamlit.org/wiki/index.php?title=List_of_books_translated_into_EnglishHere are some recommendations: https://www.reddit.com/r/VietNam/comments/37sw2r/good_vietnamese_novelsbooks/I do not recommend The Sympathiser. Not at all. The author is Vietnamese American, not Vietnamese, and he has no understanding whatsoever about the war nor the country. But I'll write more thoroughly about it later.
I wrote about this topic a while ago: http://thelittlewhiteattic.blogspot.com/2015/03/vietnamese-literature-abroad.html
Hi, Di, I have read all your comments on the Sympathizer book now, what you put up on my blog and what you have here. They amount to much the same thing, so nothing for me to add here. I'm impressed by all the books you have read in Western literature: your favorites in Russian literature are much the same as mine. "Dead Souls" is probably my favorite novel of all, and Gogol my favorite writer. Reading "The Overcoat" in Russian, you feel yourself in the presence of genius.
Why are you impressed? I haven't read that much. And yes, Dead Souls is 1 of the greatest and strangest novels I've ever read. The 2 Russian novels of my top 3 favourite novels of all time are Anna Karenina and War and Peace though (the other favourite is Moby Dick).