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Home » Books » Nonfiction » Social Sciences » Emigration & Immigration

Factory Girls

Voices from the Heart of Modern China

By Leslie T. Chang

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Format: Paperback, 448 pages
Published In: United Kingdom, 01 January 2010
`Head and shoulders above almost all other new books about China, this unflinching and yearningly compassionate portrait of the lives and loves of ordinary Chinese workers is quite unforgettable' Simon Winchester Every year in China millions of migrant workers leave their rural towns to find jobs in the cities. These people are the driving forces behind China's economic boom: they work very hard and for little money to make the trainers, ornaments, designer handbags and toys which we buy. Through the lives of two young women, Chang vividly portrays a world where you can lose your boyfriend and your friends with the loss of a cell phone; where lying about your age, your education, and your work experience is often a requisite for getting ahead; where a few computer or English lessons can catapult you into a completely different social class. This is a powerful and humane portrait of the forces which are shaping China. `Astonishing . . . Heartbreaking . . . As one tool in trying to understand today's China, this is a most valuable, if troubling read' Irish Times `Engrossing . . . An exceptionally vivid and compassionate depiction of the day-to-day dramas, and the fears and aspirations, of the real people who are powering China's economic boom' Scotsman `Chang's elegant book is evidence that the best trips home often require a circuitous approach' Nell Freudenberger, Financial Times

Leslie T. Chang is a graduate of Harvard University and was a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal in Beijing. She is married to Peter Hessler, who also writes about China. She lives in Colorado.

About the Author

Leslie T. Chang is a graduate of Harvard University and was a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal in Beijing. She is married to Peter Hessler, who also writes about China. She lives in Colorado.

Reviews

Chang, a former Beijing correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, explores the urban realities and rural roots of a community, until now, as unacknowledged as it is massive--China¿s 130 million workers whose exodus from villages to factory and city life is the largest migration in history. Chang spent three years following the successes, hardships and heartbreaks of two teenage girls, Min and Chunming, migrants working the assembly lines in Dongguan, one of the new factory cities that have sprung up all over China. The author¿s incorporation of their diaries, e-mails and text messages into the narrative allows the girls--with their incredible ambition and youth--to emerge powerfully upon the page. Dongguan city is itself a character, with talent markets where migrants talk their way into their next big break, a lively if not always romantic online dating community and a computerized English language school where students shave their heads like monks to show commitment to their studies. A first generation Chinese-American, Chang uses details of her own family¿s immigration to provide a vivid personal framework for her contemporary observations. A gifted storyteller, Chang plumbs these private narratives to craft a work of universal relevance. (Oct. 7) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

"Engrossing. . . an exceptionally vivid and compassionate depiction of the day-to-day dramas, and the fears and aspirations, of the real people who are powering China's economic boom."-"The New York Times Book Review""Chang delves deeply into the world of migrant workers to find out who these people are and what their collective dislocation means for China. Chang skillfully sketches migrants as individuals with their own small victories and bitter tragedies, and she captures the surprising dynamics of this enormous but ill-understood subculture."-"The Washington Post" "Chang's deeply affecting book tells the story of the invisible foot soldiers who made China's stirring rise possible."-"The New York Times""This is an irresistible book."-"People ""Excellent."-"Chicago Tribune""Fascinating. . . Chang powerfully conveys the individual reality behind China's 130 million migrant workers, the largest migration in human history."-"The Boston Globe ""Chang reveals a world staggering in its dimensions, unprecedented in its topsy-turvy effects on China's conservative culture, and frenetic in its pace. . . Chang deftly weaves her own family's story of migrations within China, and finally to the West, into her fascinating portrait. . . "Factory Girls" is a keen-eyed look at contemporary Chinese life composed of equal parts of new global realties, timeless stories of human striving, and intelligent storytelling at its best."-"San Francisco Chronicle" "Both entertaining and poignant. . . Chang's fine prose and her keen sense of detail more than compensate for the occasional digression, and her book is an intimate portrait of a strangeand hidden landscape."-"The New Yorker ""A compelling, atmospheric look at seldom-seen China."-"BusinessWeek " "Chang, a journalist at the "Wall Street Journal," spent two years reporting in the gritty southern boomtown of Dongguan trying to put human faces on these workers, and the ones she finds are extraordinary. They are, more than anything else, the face of modern China: a country increasingly turning away from its rural roots and turbulent past and embracing a promising but uncertain future. . . The painstaking work Chang put into befriending these girls and drawing out their stories is evident, as is the genuine affection she has for them and their spirit."-"Time" "In her impressive new book, "Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China," former "Wall Street Journal" reporter Leslie T. Chang explores this boom that's simultaneously emptying China's villages of young people and fueling its economic growth. . . To be sure, this mass migration is a big and well-told story. But Chang brings to it a personal touch: her own forebears were migrants, and she skillfully weaves through the narrative tales of their border crossings. She also succeeds in grounding the trend in wider social context, suggesting that the aspirations of these factory girls signal a growing individualism in China's socialist culture."-"Newsweek" "Elegant. . . Chang is less interested in expose than in getting to know the young women of Dongguan's assembly lines. "Factory Girls" reveals the workplace through the workers' eyes."-"Financial Times ""A real coup. . . Chang, a former Beijing correspondent for "The Wall Street Journal," does more than describeharsh factory conditions. She writes about the way the workers themselves see migration, bringing us views that are rarely heard. "Factory Girls" is highly readable and even amusing in many places, despite the seriousness of the subject. In the pages of this book, these factory girls come to life."-"Christian Science Monitor" "Amazing. . . a fascinating ethnography of the young women who labor in the factories of Guangdong, China's richest province, a land of boomtowns where wealth and scams and exploitation and warmth and courage all abound. . . I must have read fifty books about China this year, but this stands out as one of the best."-Boingboing.net "A gifted storyteller, Chang crafts a work of universal relevance."-"Publishers Weekly" (starred review) "In-depth reporting [that] contributes significantly to our knowledge about China's development."-"Kirkus Reviews" "Rising head and shoulders above almost all other new books about China, this unflinching and yearningly compassionate portrait of the lives and loves of ordinary Chinese workers is quite unforgettable: it presents the first long, hard look we have ever taken at the people who are due to become, before very much longer, the new masters of the world."-Simon Winchester, author of "The Man Who Loved China""Often people ask me, 'What's it like for women in China today?' From now on I'll recommend Leslie Chang's "Factory Girls," which is brilliant, thoughtful, and insightful. This book is also for anyone who's ever wondered how their sneakers, Christmas ornaments, toys, designer clothes, or computers are made. The stories of these factory girls are not only mesmerizing, tragic, andinspiring -- true examples of persistence, endurance, and loneliness -- but Chang has also woven in her own family's history, shuttling north and south through China to examine this complicated country's past, present, and future."-Lisa See, author of "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan " "From the Hardcover edition."

EAN: 9780330447362
ISBN: 033044736X
Publisher: Picador
Dimensions: 19.7 x 13 x 2.7 centimetres (0.32 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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1 review(s)
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Tracey on
 
This in a really interesting read in that it gives an insight into something which many of us complain about, but which we know little about: Chinese factories. Amazing to read about the challenges of factory workers, from blatant discrimination (26 is too old!) to unbelievably tough working conditions.

I felt that the story got a little lost as Chang recounted her own family history. Both sides of the book are fascinating, but they didn't really gel for me as a single topic.

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