HA NOI — A book recently launched by Literature Publisher features Vietnamese and foreign writers including the great To Hoai.
Entitled Chuyen Lang Van (Stories about Literature Circles), the work comprises interviews and writings by author Di Li, whose real name is Nguyen Dieu Linh, a free-lance columnist for several periodicals.
The piece on To Hoai, recorded when he was 82, focuses on literature for children and his views about the young writer generation.
"The interview gave me an excuse to meet one of the writers I admire the most. Unlike his humorous writing style, in real life he appears calm, serious and a little unfriendly," Di Li said.
Although elderly, his mind is very sharp, lending his features a constantly surprised look.
"He keeps on top of current issues, which explains his profound understanding of modern life."
To Hoai, real name Nguyen Sen, was born in 1920. Regarded as "a great, ancient tree" of the Vietnamese literarure circle, he is known for works such as De Men Phieu Luu Ky (The Adventure of a Cricket, 1941), Truyen Tay Bac (Story of the Northwest, 1953) and Phuong Tay (The West, 1967). In addition, he is one of the few famous writers from the pre-revolutionary period still alive.
The Adventure of a Cricket is very popular in Viet Nam where every child knows the story of the little animal that left his home to travel, growing up and learning about life amongst different "people".
The story was To Hoai's first published work, written when he was 17 and including many aspects of his own time spent as a child.
It has been printed by about 40 publishers around the world in a score of languages such as Russian, French, German and Swedish.
At the age of 86, To Hoai published the novel Ba Nguoi Khac (The Three Others) in 2010, more than a decade after scooping up the Ho Chi Minh Prize for Literature and Arts in 1996.
Other portraits included in Stories about Literature Circles centre on veterans Kim Lan, Phan Thi Thanh Nhan and Tran Dang Khoa as well as developing writers Vi Thuy Linh and Do Hoang Dieu alongside foreign authors from the US, Germany, Italy, Australia, France, Denmark, Japan, and South Korea.
Di Li is a member of the Viet Nam Writers Association. She has published 11 books and is especially known for Trai Hoa Do (Red Flower Farm), which is the first mystery horror, produced in the country. — VNS