Nguyen Le Chi is not only a translator and journalist but also the director of Chibooks, a new publishing house gaining the attention of many book lovers. The publisher has released more than 40 translated stories, including English novels such as Marley and Me, How to be Single and Man Hunting. Chi talks to Thanh Huyen
Inner Sanctum: When did your love for books start?
My parents used to work as intellectuals so most of their property consisted of books, a majority of which were foreign. Since a young age, I considered books as friends whenever I was home alone. My parents often gave me books or magazines as presents at the end of each term or school year. At that time, books were very expensive and hard to buy, so I felt happy and honoured whenever I received a new one.
Inner Sanctum: Which childhood books do you find hard to forget?
Khong gia dinh (French book Sans Famille), Con Bim trang tai den (Russian book White Bim the Black Ear) and De men phieu luu ki (Vietnamese book The Adventures of Cricket) all left deep impressions on me. The clear affection and strong desire to discover new things, the great love between people and animals, and the happiness in realising we still have family and friends, will remain eternal. These books all have high humane value.
Inner Sanctum: What are the advantages of publishing books as both a journalist and a translator?
As a translator myself, I understand the aspirations and difficulties that might be encountered. Because a strong publishing unit needs an excellent team of authors and translators. Understanding their difficulties, I can help them overcome the psychological obstacles. I provide translators with stable jobs and call on the public to understand their social position and importance in building cultural bridges.
As a journalist, I have a close and keen outlook on life. These are the advantages in publishing books and satisfying market demand.
Inner Sanctum: In your opinion, what are the difficulties faced by young publishing units?
Most of them suffer from price pressures, capital appropriation and a lack of capital, as well as proper legal protection.
Inner Sanctum: Chibooks publishes mainly for the youth and women markets. Why did you single out these groups?
I want to follow a line of products different from other publishing houses. These groups are also my strong points, which I understand and care for the most.
Inner Sanctum: Having studied and worked in different professions, have you ever thought of becoming a writer?
Sometimes, I still write life stories for newspapers, the most recent of which was a series entitled Vietnamese Brides in Taiwan, published in the newspaper Thanh Nien (Young People). Previously, I used to nurture the idea of writing a novel, but because I have found so much joy in producing other people's books, I have had little time to pursue such a dream.
Inner Sanctum: Who is your favourite writer and why?
I have always respected Ho Anh Thai. Besides his stories, he also writes many in-depth articles about culture and the arts. I see in him a strong desire for knowledge. He is always ready to help, discover and encourage many young writers when they embark on writing.
Inner Sanctum: The character Gekko in the movie Wall Street-Money Never Sleeps thinks that: Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind. What do you think about this? Are you a greedy woman?
It is true if judged in that context. However, I think that living means constantly seeking positive things, to focus on the more interesting and beautiful no matter how difficult it is. Life, in my opinion, is very short. I'm always afraid of running out of time, that I will not be alive tomorrow, so I have to take advantage of studying and discovering as much as I can. Of course, such positive greed should be encouraged, shouldn't it? Thanks to that greed, people and things are motivated to develop. The desire to perfect ourselves is never over, as long as you wake it up in time, in the right position and with enough energy.
Inner Sanctum: What should be done to enhance children's interest in books?
If parents regularly buy books and read for their children, or take them to bookstores, their love for reading will develop naturally. — VNS