|View from train between Chengdu and Chongqing|
|Luxury brands have proliferated in Chongqing|
|Fame at Chongqing's Rare Garden!|
The British Council (working here as a section of the Consulate-General) introduced me to my invaluable Chongqing guide nine years ago, and they've turned up trumps again, organizing two events for At Least We Lived. The first is a literary evening at the Rare Garden, kind of a Chinese version of the Bookworm venues - a casual literary cafe for young Chinese, run by the deputy director of the local writers' association. It is in an edgy neighborhood on the south bank - an area built up beyond all recognition from the days when Audrey and her roommates found it 'more airy' than the north bank of the Yangtze.
I meet Paula Middleton, the Council Director for Southwest China, and Mark Woodham, the deputy Consul-General, to drive over to the Rare Garden. We begin the evening with dinner with the owner and some interesting guests, including an architect and the manager of the British Chamber of Commerce for the region. Paula moderates our discussion of At Least We Lived very skillfully - she really understands the book's themes and, though we move slowly because of the need for translation, it's a great session. The audience are intrigued by the idea of a wartime love story set in a time and place that many of their grandparents experienced, and I sign and sell the few copies of the book that I have with me.
|The Rare Garden Literary Evening|
|View today from north to south bank|
My 30-minute presentation is of course much more personal than the historical overviews presented by four SISU researchers, but a nice contrast, I'm told! I show the best photos from Max's only roll of film of the city, and talk about some of the other characters of their day who wrote memoirs, like Berkeley Gage. I hope that the Council and SISU will keep me in touch on this interesting project.
|Hot pot dinner with Sun Ying|