Leslie T. Chang's Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China
is 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.
Chang is an American-born Chinese writer who won over the confidence of several remarkable young migrant women who came from the distant provinces to work in the factories and find independence, social mobility and status as cash earners. These women experience many setbacks and victories, undergo remarkable personal transformations, and come to lively life under Chang's studious eye.
But Factory Girls is also a memoir of Chang's own family, the Zhangs, migrants who fled China after WWII and the Maoist revolution. Chang and her family are also "migrants," who out-migrated beyond the coastal cities, reinventing themselves in distant America. Chang's camaraderie with the Factory Girls clearly stems in part from this fellow-feeling, this knowing what it means to be from a place but not of it anymore (I'm an immigrant who left the country of my birth, in which my family were also immigrants, so this had all kinds of resonances for me).
In Chang's journey back to her surviving Mainland relatives and her relationship to the Factory Girls of Guangdong we see the inkling of what a new normal might look like, what these remarkable young women might become after the dust settles and they stop reinventing themselves and simple are.
In the meantime, the Factory Girls and their adventures fill the pages of this remarkable book, which chronicles everything from the sleaze of karaoke bars and multi-level direct-sales cults to the heartbreak of romance and speed-dating to the small heroism of the many friendships and noble deeds of the girls of the book.
I must have read fifty books about China this year (I'm working on a novel set partly in China), but this stands out as one of the best.
Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China
The Art of Atari is a new hardcover celebrating the wonderful illustrations of the iconic game company’s packaging, catalogs, and other artwork that, according to the book’s introduction written by Ernest “Ready Player One” Cline, was “specially commissioned to enhance the Atari experience to further entice children and adults to embrace the new era of […]
Ariel Waldman, creator of Spacehack, has just published a delightful book titled “What’s It Like in Space? Stories from Astronauts Who’Ve Been There?” Illustrated by Brian Standeford, it’s a fun collection of astronaut anecdotes on everything from sneezing and farting in zero gravity to weird frights and the necessity of Sriracha in space. Here’s an […]
Danish photographer Jacob Erhbahn captured metalheads mid-headbang at music festivals around Europe. The result is Headbangers, a full-color book compiling the best of these unrestrained moments of metal bliss. In this collection Ehrbahn’s camera stops time and captures the surprising and life-affirming moments when the headbangers abandon all semblance of vanity and surrender to the […]
If you or your company’s IT system are besieged by black hat cyber attacks, an ethical hacker might be all that stands between crippling damage and a company’s long-term prosperity. It’s no wonder that the market for IT security specialists is exploding. Certification is the key – so learn the tenets of ethical hacking and get […]
Your laptop and mobile devices are top of the line…so why are you trotting out that raggedy decades-old suitcase when you go somewhere? Time to up your travel game with a complete 5-piece Herschel Travel Luggage bundle…and we’ll even give it to you for free!Of course, you’ve got to win the Ultimate Herschel Travel Bundle […]