Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI – A novel by German author Karin Kalisa about expatriate Vietnamese was released in Vietnamese recently in Hà Nội.
The book titled Sungs Laden (Sung’s Story) was translated into Vietnamese by Lê Quang.
It is Kalisa’s first novel. The author has done her PhD in Japanese studies and philosophy of language and has studied in Hamburg, Bochum and Tokyo.
The author was inspired to pen the novel after hearing stories of expatriate Vietnamese.
The novel begins with an old Vietnamese wooden puppet on stage that fascinates the children and the teachers of an elementary school in Berlin.
The story then moves to the residents of an urban district who gradually discover the essence of Việt Nam is pervasive in the neighborhood.
Sung’s store not only becomes a popular meeting point where conical hats, silk and vegetables from Việt Nam suddenly begin selling like hot cakes, but also a place where Berliners can interact with their Vietnamese neighbours.
Living in Berlin, Kalisa passed stores owned by Vietnamese people every day. Curious about what was being sold inside, the author decided one day to enter a store. She made friends with the Vietnamese owners whose stories captured her interest.
“The novel reminds me of East Germany and my old friends,” Vietnamese writer Nguyễn Văn Thọ, who had lived in Germany for 30 years, said.
He said Kalisa was very skilled to be able to refine stories of expatriate Vietnamese from the 1990s.
“The author writes about Vietnamese imperfections in a humorous manner. Her characters in the novel highlight Vietnamese characteristics such as sentiment and hard work,” Thọ said.
The three-chapter novel was presented according to the traditional style of novel writing and the title Con Rối Tha Hương (Puppet in Foreign Land) was translated into Vietnamese by Lê Quang.
The translator said he was surprised at how the bad habits of the Vietnamese people had been depicted. Quang said, while in Germany, he had met some Vietnamese but had not dared to say hello fearing they may be smugglers
“The author has been very kind and generous while portraying the habits of the Vietnamese,” he said.
With her novel, Kalisa aims to integrate communities by promoting cultures. In the novel, the urban quarter is constantly changing, to the extent that there is a Vietnamese water puppet theatre located in a duck pond in the heart of Berlin.
The novel was released in Vietnamese on the occasion of European Literature Day in Việt Nam. A reading for students and a discussion with Kalisa was held at HCM University of Social Sciences and Humanity. —VNS