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Beijing Bestsellers: Korean teen lit, essays, and memoirs

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Random Thoughts, collected.

We'll take a look at general non-fiction this week since there's little change on the overall chart this time round. Once again fiction is king, but it's slightly differently arranged. Lin Yutang's Moment in Peking apparently peaked at #2 its first week; it's back down at #9 on fiction list.

Ba Jin's Random Thoughts (#8, #1 general NF) continues to sell well in the new 46-yuan edition published by the Writers Publishing House (the older version from Joint Publishing cost 29 yuan; that publisher also put out a Selected Random Thoughts for 31.8 yuan). The author's most famous novels are assigned and recommended reading in schools, and versions have been filmed for television and the big screen, so there's been no huge rush on them. Essays are not as easy to film, and since Ba Jin's plea to "speak the truth" has been brought up again and again in articles eulogizing his life, perhaps readers are looking to see what truth he had to say.

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A coin and a jade ring on the cover of Our Qian Yuan.

Another big name from the older generation is Yang Jiang, whose new memoir, Our Qian Yuan, follows her 2003 bestseller The Three of Us. That book told of her life with noted author Qian Zhongshu (A City Besieged) and their daughter Qian Yuan; this new one concentrates on their daughter, who was a professor in the English department at Beijing Normal University.

The book's cover features a drawing of two discs (shown at left) which Qian Yuan used as a sort of signature. At top is a coin (), and at bottom is a pierced jade (). The Three of Us used a similar device on the cover. Qian Yuan's childhood nickname, Yuanyuan, was written using the character meaning "round" followed by a circle: 圆〇.

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Girl gets the cool guys in Outsider.

The new novel on the list this week is a translation of the Korean book Outsider (#2) by Gwiyeoni. The author made a name for herself writing online fiction using popular net slang peppered with emoticons. Her That Guy Was Cool was a huge hit last year and spawned legions of imitators. The author, whose real name is Lee Yoon-se, writes about slightly out-of-place girls who fall in love with dashing guys. The twist in this novel is that the girl is faced with not one but two prospects.

Propelling the book up the charts are several factors. Aside from the general trendiness of all things Korean and online, the author's fans have been waiting for this one to come out in Chinese ever since the original version was announced. And last week there was a booksigning at the launch. Since several of Gwiyeoni's previous properties have been filmed, we probably can expect a movie of this one soon.


The non-fiction bestseller list for the week of 11/04--11/10:

  1. (2) Random Thoughts by Ba Jin. Also available online at Sina. (巴金, 《随想录》)
  2. (1) Liu Xinwu demystifies "Dream of the Red Mansion" by Liu Xinwu. (刘心武, 《刘心武揭秘〈红楼梦〉》)
  3. (3) Looking at the Moon From Honglou by Liu Xinwu: Essays on Dream of the Red Mansion. Serialized on Sina. (刘心武,《红楼望月》)
  4. (-) So the Book of Poems can be read like that! by Tang Wen. (唐文, 《原来诗经可以这样读》)
  5. (9) Li Shutong Talks About Buddhism by Li Shutong: Early 20th century scholar, poet, oil painter, and musician. He lived in Tianjin, and became a Buddhist monk in 1918. (李叔同, 《李叔同说佛》)
  6. (4) The Joy of Thought by Wang Xiaobo. Essays by a popular, deceased novelist. (王小波, 《思维的乐趣》)
  7. (5) Our Qian Yuan by Yang Jiang. (杨绛, 《我们的钱瑗》)
  8. (6) About Going to Work by Zhu Deyong. Comics. (朱德庸,《关于上班这件事》)
  9. (-) A Pitcher of Wine Among the Flowers by Li Ling. Anecdotal history. (李零, 《花间一壶酒》)
  10. (-) My Normandy by Tang Shizeng: New work of photojournalism commemorating the 60th anniversary of victory in the war against fascism. (唐师曾, 《我的诺曼底》)

The overall bestseller list for the week of 11/04--11/10:

  1. (1) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (Chinese translation) (J.K. 罗琳, 《哈利·波特与混血王子》)
  2. (-) Outsider by Gwiyeoni. (可爱淘, 《局外人》)
  3. (4) Flashing Swords by Du Liang. A "market-driven war story." See note here. (都梁, 《亮剑》)
  4. (7) Tibetan Mastiff by Yang Zhijun. The way of the dog. (杨志军, 《藏獒》)
  5. (6) Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong. The way of the wolf. (姜戎, 《狼图腾》)
  6. (9) The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. (丹·布郎,《达·芬奇密码》)
  7. (3) Brothers (volume I) by Yu Hua. Epic changes through 40 years of life. (余华, 《兄弟》)
  8. (-) Random Thoughts by Ba Jin. (巴金, 《随想录》)
  9. (8) Be Your Personal Best by Li Kaifu: motivational book and DVD by Google's new China head. (李开复, 《做最好有自己》)
  10. (5) Liu Xinwu demystifies "Dream of the Red Mansion" by Liu Xinwu. As seen on TV! See this for more details. (刘心武, 《刘心武揭秘〈红楼梦〉》)

Bestseller rankings are taken from the Friday Book Review section in The Beijing News, which compiles its data from the city's major online and brick & mortar bookstores.

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