Tag Archives: Vietnamese

Digging Deep and Writing Through Fear: a Guest Post by Aliette de Bodard

Today on the site I’m delighted to welcome Aliette de Bodard, whose The Vanishers’ Palace, “A dark Beauty and the Beast retelling, where they are both women and the Beast is a dragon,” releases tomorrow!  But before we get to her post, I’m gonna have to show off this book, because it could not look more awesome:

In a ruined, devastated world, where the earth is poisoned and beings of nightmares roam the land…

A woman, betrayed, terrified, sold into indenture to pay her village’s debts and struggling to survive in a spirit world.

A dragon, among the last of her kind, cold and aloof but desperately trying to make a difference.

When failed scholar Yên is sold to Vu Côn, one of the last dragons walking the earth, she expects to be tortured or killed for Vu Côn’s amusement.

But Vu Côn, it turns out, has a use for Yên: she needs a scholar to tutor her two unruly children. She takes Yên back to her home, a vast, vertiginous palace-prison where every door can lead to death. Vu Côn seems stern and unbending, but as the days pass Yên comes to see her kinder and caring side. She finds herself dangerously attracted to the dragon who is her master and jailer. In the end, Yên will have to decide where her own happiness lies—and whether it will survive the revelation of Vu Côn’s dark, unspeakable secrets…

Preorder it

And here’s the post!

Some books are terrifying to write.

In the Vanishers’ Palace didn’t start out as this. It was 2017, and due to rather a lot of stressors in my personal life, writing had stopped being fun or being fulfilling. I was skating pretty close to burnout. To prevent a really ugly crash, I put my contractual obligations on the backburner, and decided to write for fun.

I wanted a book about escape, one I could sink into for comfort: something that would take the Vietnamese legends of my childhood, the awe-inspiring dragons that lived in underwater palaces and the poor scholars who fell in love with them, and merge them with a retelling of Beauty and the Beast that would engage with the problematic issue of lack of consent when one falls in love with one’s jailer. I would write a book in which an impoverished scholar fell in love with the dragon to whom she’d been indentured. I would make it casually, normatively queer, because I was tired of being punched in the face by media in which bi or lesbian characters in a relationship with another woman died as a matter of course. I wanted a fun and fluffy f/f romance with strong supporting female and non-binary characters.

What I wrote instead felt, in many ways, like opening my chest and putting my heart’s blood on the page. I hadn’t expected this to turn out so personal. As I wrote this, I dug into old tales and old images that meant so much to me as a child: a dragon rising from the heart of the river, a scholar piecing together words that turned out to be magical spells, a library that held all the books of the world and one had only to ask… I wrote into my universe the darkness inherent in fairytales, but also that of history: the world of In the Vanishers’ Palace isn’t ruined by climate warming, but by colonial masters who tear it apart for fun and then leave when everything is ashes, never caring what happens to their former servants.

But I also ended up pushing on things that bled: on questions of who is allowed happiness, who is allowed escape and comfort, who is allowed stories. As I wrote, my treacherous brain kept whispering to me that I was wrong, that people like my geeky lesbian Vietnamese scholar or my honourable, duty-bound bi dragon spirit couldn’t possibly be the centre of a decent narration, or have a relationship with a happy ending. That a fantasy book had to be about violence rather than the breaking of the cycle; that discussions of consent were too weighty and too fraught; and that a book set in a post-colonial, ruined world couldn’t possibly hold out hope.

It wasn’t the first time this had happened: when I wrote my Vietnamese domestic space opera On a Red Station, Drifting, I had similar feelings (and a similar root cause of digging deep into personal meaningful things, and pushing back against my brain’s ideas of acceptable narratives). I knew, to some extent, how to fight them, but it left me exhausted and drained. And when In the Vanishers’ Palace was rejected, it felt (for the first time in many, many years) life-shattering in a way that I couldn’t quite articulate: I only realised afterwards that it was because the book was so personal, and the writing of it so challenging.

Fortunately, my friends came to my rescue. They’d read the book (sometimes in multiple versions), and they were sure to remind me of their enthusiasm, and of what it had meant to them. They offered me their support as I navigated through the process of publishing it. And I remembered the lessons I’d learnt as a writer: that there is no correlation between the quality of a book and how I feel about it. That all writing is an act of letting go, and that books go out in the world to be read and become the readers’ as much as the writer’s. That it’s natural to be scared, but that it’s no reason to hide a manuscript.

Once upon a time, I wrote a book and I dug deep into my own self, and it was terrifying. But it’s ok, because I remembered how to write through fear, and because I remembered how to let go–and most of all, because my friends are fabulous and have my back, and that makes it all way less terrifying.

***

Aliette de Bodard writes speculative fiction: her short stories have garnered her two Nebula Awards, a Locus Award and two British Science Fiction Association Awards. She is the author of the Dominion of the Fallen series, set in a turn-of-the-century Paris devastated by a magical war, which comprises The House of Shattered Wings (2015 British Science Fiction Association Award, Locus Award finalist), and its standalone sequel The House of Binding Thorns (Ace/Gollancz, 2017 European Science Fiction Society Achievement Award, Locus award finalist). She lives in Paris.

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LGBTQA MG/YA in Translation

One major access problem with LGBTQIAP+ books is that so many of them are published in English and never translated into anything else. To that end, here are great books that are (or will be; some of these are forthcoming) available in other languages. (Of course, most of these books have different titles in other languages; I’ve chosen the easiest method for myself by posting the titles in English here. If you need assistance with finding the title in its native language, please feel free to contact me or comment below.)

Please note that links were taken from a combination of Amazon and author websites, so while they may not be the right link for your location, the point is to see that the translation exists so it can be a starting point for you tracking it down. I also recognize that languages can vary by territory, and that, for example, sometimes rights are specifically purchased for Brazil and the book is not available in Portugal; I did the best I could to note such instances but feel free to leave notes/corrections in the comments.

(Caveat: I have not read any of these translations, and cannot speak to whether the queer storylines have been modified, as unfortunately certain countries are particularly wont to do.)

US = a link to that edition on American Amazon, via affiliate link, or on BN.com

This will be a regularly updated resource, so if you are an author whose book has been internationally translated, please get in touch or comment below to have your book added! (Or make any corrections as needed.)

Bosnian and Montenegran

  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Catalan

Chinese

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (Complex)
  • George by Alex Gino (Complex)
  • Every Day by David Levithan (Simplified)
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (Simplified)

Czech

Danish

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • George by Alex Gino
  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
  • History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
  • They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Dutch

Estonian

Finnish

French

Georgian

  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

German

Hungarian

Indonesian

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (Spring/Haru)

Hebrew

Icelandic

  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Italian

Japanese

Korean

Norwegian

Polish

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (US)
  • Alan Cole is Not a Coward by Eric Bell
  • This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
  • History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Portuguese

(Most of these links go to amazon.br)

Romanian

Serbian

  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Slovakian

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Spanish

Swedish

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour

Taiwanese

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • George by Alex Gino
  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Thai

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
  • The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
  • Every Day by David Levithan

Turkish

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
  • The Last Beginning by Lauren James
  • Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
  • We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
  • People Like Us by Dana Mele
  • This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
  • History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
  • They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Ukrainian

  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Vietnamese

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • George by Alex Gino
  • We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
  • Every Day and Another Day by David Levithan

Fave Five: Gay/Bi Historical Fiction Set in Early 20th Century Europe

At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O’Neill (1916 Ireland)

The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood (1931 Berlin)

The Book of Salt by Monique Truong (1929 Paris)

History of a Pleasure Seeker by Richard Mason (1907 Amsterdam)

While England Sleeps by David Leavitt (1930s London and Spain)*

*There are strong accusations that Leavitt plagiarized Stephen Spender’s life for this novel. You may also want to check out Spender’s autobiography, World Within World, which contains an afterword addressing the allegations.

Rainbow heart

Fave Five: YA with South Asian MCs

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee (B, Vietnamese-Chinese)

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore (T, Pakistani)

Vanished and Avenged by E.E. Cooper (B, Indian)

A Love That Disturbs by Medeia Sharif (L, Pakistani)

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (Q, Indian)

 Rainbow heart