Anna Moï was born in Saigon, the then capital of the Republic in the southern part of war-stricken Vietnam, in 1955. She started studying History at the University of Nanterre in France, aiming to become a journalist, but soon shifted towards the fashion industry. She then worked as a fashion designer in Paris and Bangkok and lived for some time in Tokyo. She speaks many languages including Vietnamese, French, English, Thai, Japanese, and some German. In 1992 she moved back to her home city, now called Ho Chi Minh City.
Here she began to write in French, her second mother tongue, and initially published two slim volumes of short stories presenting scenes from everyday life, penned with humor and subtelty. Following her second volume of stories, Parfum de Pagoda (Pagoda Perfume), Moi turned to write novels.
In her debut novel, Riz noir (2004; Black Rice) she focuses on the sore afflictions of the country’s past and describes the fate of two young sisters who were arrested, tortured and interned by South Vietnamese forces. Her second novel, Rapaces (2004; Birds of Prey), takes place during the period of French colonial rule and evokes important moments in the country’s history, such as the great famine of the winter of 1944/45. Moi’s last work, Violon (The Violin) tells the story of a young woman who suffers from dyslexia and grows up in a family dominated by women.
But what is on Moï’s own bookshelves? Which books does she read as inspiration? What does she consider her first ‘serious’ piece of writing and why? Which works have offered comfort in times of distress and which books have made her ask questions? During the Life Library of Ana Moi, we take a deep dive into the works that inspire and intrigue this Bordeaux-based author and creative.
Interview by Myriam Sahraoui.