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
We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War is a new book by veteran Doug Bradley and Craig Werner, professor of Afro-American studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, about soldiers’ musical memories and the impact of James Brown, Eric Burdon, Country Joe McDonald, and other popular artists on the Vietnam […]
Pop Chart Lab was founded in 2010 by a book editor and a designer, with the modest goal of rendering all of human experience in chart form. Since then they’ve charted a wide array of cultural touchstones. A Visual Guide to Drink is Pop Chart Lab’s comprehensive volume of its most important topics in graphical […]
Hilarious and silly, A Book of Surrealist Games is a fantastic introduction to the surrealist mind-set. In addition to just being fun to peruse, this collection of written, visual and verbal games is great for exercising your mind, and staying creative. In addition to the games, this oddly organized book is packed with poems, illustrations […]
Today and tomorrow only we are offering an additional 15% off the entire Boing Boing store (some exclusions may apply). Simply use coupon code: BLACKFRIDAY at checkout! Below are a few of our favorites from the store: First Generation Lytro 16GB Camera: The First Consumer Camera to Capture the Entire Light FieldAdobe Training Videos: Lifetime Subscription: 6,000+ Adobe […]
Today only in the Boing Boing Store we are offering an extra 15% off of the below VPN deals just use coupon code: VPN15 at checkout. proXPN VPN: Premium Lifetime Subscription Surf the web with ultimate peace of mind – both at home and on the road – over proXPN’s fully-encrypted, lightning-fast servers. Your lifetime premium subscription […]
These knitted gloves are here to save the day (and your hands) with an ultra-comfy, double-layer that will allow you to stay warm and use your phone. Now you can take photos on the fly, text, Tinder, and more without letting freezing temperatures get in your way. Plus they work with all touchscreens, so no […]