We had to go to the Foreign Languages Bookstore on Wangfujing today, and, well, never take me to a bookstore- I'll happily wander around the store sifting through all the books for hours on end, closely examining anything of even the slightest interest.
Anyway, we hadn't been to the Foreign Languages Bookstore for ages, and it has changed, drastically. Changed for the better, I might add, it no longer feels like the last hold-out from 1976 and actually looks and feels like a real bookstore. The changes were a bit disorienting at first, but we quickly got our bearings and found the books we needed within a few minutes. Then I set about sifting.
The new English translation of Jiang Rong's Wolf Totem was on prominent display at the end of the first row of shelves, facing the door so that it was the first thing I saw when we stepped inside. I noticed the price, though, and thought, nah.
Actually, prices were something I noticed: They're getting noticeably higher. Also, the staff still haven't noticed that many Chinese publishers are no longer printing the price of their books on the back cover or with the copyright information. They long ago noticed that foreign publishers don't do that and so they're well used to putting price stickers on books, but somehow... Oh well.
And then I found a book to buy. Funny, I used to always leave that store with a huge stack of books, but today I bought only one, but it looks really interesting. It's Filming as War Clouds Loom in 1937- 6000km with a Cinecam by Sun Mingjing, translated by Sun Jianqiu, published in 2006 by the Foreign Languages Press. Sun Mingjing was a professor of cinematography at the University of Nanking and in 1937 he was sent up to Suiyuan to make a documentary. He shot 2000 feet of film and 813 photographs, and wrote 25 letters to his fiancee back in Nanjing. When he got back he put the letters and photos together with 10 drawings of the war situation into a book, but because of the war it wasn't published and the drawings were lost. Then the photos burnt during the Cultural Revolution- although fortunately the negatives survived- and his book was not finally published until 2004, eight years after his death.
The idea of a journey from Nanjing northwards to Suiyuan in 1937, just as the war was about to break out seems absolutely fascinating, and the little I've seen of the book so far has me intrigued. And the photos, wow. I just saw some of the Juyongguan and Badaling sections of the Great Wall lying in disrepair and overgrown- ever so slightly different from today's shiny, new, rebuilt tourist circuses with a major expressway running through them. And there's plenty more- 187 photos in all.
Yep, I'm looking forward to reading this book.