Thursday, July 19, 2007

lychees etc. / O2 Sun books

passing notes from my day's activities in Beijing
[lifted from an impromptu email]

. . . Went this afternoon to the bookstore near my ("my" anyway) studio -- nice place called O2 Sun Books -- it has an upper floor that includes SOME books in English (not so easy to find such in China).

I got a bilingual edition of The Peony Pavillion (the story underlying a very long Chinese opera; a version of the opera had been produced in New York City [Lincoln Center] several summers ago by a Chinese director, I think it lasted for 3-4 days to see the whole thing). Was a bit tempted to get a book by Haruki Murakami (they have several of his novels) or Milan Kundera's book called Ignorance. But I'm pretty sure I've already read the latter. I figured I'll buy one book, and if I actually read the thing, then I can consider another. There were also some interesting-to-glance-at books with photographs / artwork. Ernest Hemingway's work (in Chinese translation) was being somewhat featured at the place. The Old Man and the Sea, etc.

I've spent most of the day with my parents -- which seems to be my main "job" during this (rather rare, for me) period of time. Bought for them fresh lychees, from a guy-with-cart.

[next-day postscript]:

Baoqing and I picked up XD at the airport late last night. When I showed him the Peoony Pavilion volume, he remarked that the director of the Lincoln Center production is a friend of his -- and that I had (as I knew) missed an opportunity, in not catching that production. He also played for me an audio file of music, -- singing of one of the songs of Qu Yuan (originally popularized in American Sino-literary circles by Arthur Waley's translation, "Songs of the South"). He noted that such literature (whether this Nine Songs, or the Peony Pavilion) has in recent years enjoyed some revived interest . . .

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