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Factory Girls: Voices from the Heart of Modern China Paperback – 1 Jan 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (1 Jan. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 033044736X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330447362
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 143,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"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."

Book Description

'Often people ask me, ‘What’s it like for women in China today?’ From now on I’ll recommend Leslie T. 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, and inspiring—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 Factory Girls offers a previously untold story about the immense population of unknown women who work countless hours, often in hazardous conditions, to provide us with the material goods we take for granted. A book of global significance, it demonstrates how the movement from rural villages to cities is remaking individual lives and the fates of families, transforming our world much as immigration to America’s shores remade that society a century ago. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Tony Buckley on 7 Feb. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The subtitle of this fascinating book is particularly expressive and descriptive: Voices from the Heart of Modern China. First published in 2008, the book follows the lives of two migrant girls, as they leave home (and occasionally return) to make their way in the burgeoning factories of China's south-east regions, as part of the "largest human migration in the world's history" as 130 million seek fortune and "life-changing possibilities" away from the country villages of their birth in the new towns and factories. It provides an intimate portrait of the lives, aspirations, frustrations and values of the girls striving to make both a physical and cultural separation from their homes, and to find their own way in the modern evolving China. Somewhat disjointed at first, the book makes, then loses contact with the girls, and then having seemed to express disinterest in her own family history, the author embarks on one of a number of interludes as she explores in great detail her own history from her grandfather's assassination by the Communists to the present day via various relatives still living in China.
As the book progresses, however, this exploration alongside the stories of the girls - provides a deeply absorbing insight into some of the lives of modern China as they struggle with the past and present, and deal with conflicts of family, future, boyfriends, bosses, and opportunities.
While mentioning only in passing some of the major movements and leaders in China in the past few generations, the focus is firmly on the present day and how the girls come to terms with their past by moving forward with resolve and determination ("to linger on loss was pointless").
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 22 April 2011
Format: Paperback
This book brushes a brutal, but realistic, picture of the new (and the old) China: the villages without men (and now even without young women), the cities of singles, the sweatshops and the sweat cities, as well as the individual struggles against exhaustion or for a better education.
This monumental economic and social upheaval is illustrated by in depth documentary reports on the lives and loves of two young girls and on the author's research about her own roots, which are heavily marked by wars, warlords and, most of all, by the Cultural Revolution.

Cultural Revolution
After being outvoted in the Central Committee of the Chinese CP, Mao fought back by setting up the young generation against the old one: `everyone lost years in education, health and family members. But, people still don't (want to) speak about this catastrophe. They repressed the painful past or are seeking excuses like `so many people suffered'.

Migration from the villages
One third of the migrators are very young single women, some not older than 16 years: `They took such risks, and they were surrounded by corrupt or dishonest people.'
Moreover, `unlike men, women had no home to go back to. According to Chinese tradition, a son was expected to return to his parents' house with his wife after he married. Daughters would never return home to live - until they married, they didn't belong anywhere.'

Working conditions in the sweatshops
In some sweatshops, the working conditions are simply dismal: `up till 13 hour workdays with two breaks for meals. Some Saturday afternoons there was no overtime. That was their only half day rest. Salaries (not always paid on time) stood at 50 $ a month.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A. Dremaca on 2 May 2010
Format: Paperback
I bought this book on a bit of a whim to have something to read while on a holiday visiting family. I will admit that beforehand I knew almost nothing about contemporary China, and also didn't really have any interesting. I can't stress enough how engrossing this book is - beyond any educational level it is extremely well written. I had to ration how many pages I read a day to make the book last the duration of the trip - could not get enough. The people and situations are fascinating, and it really feels like you're getting to glimpse into a world you otherwise wouldn't. I can't recommend this book highly enough, it sparked for me a major interest in China, and it has done the same for everyone I have told to read this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Janie U VINE VOICE on 23 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book whilst searching on amazon for biographies and it sounded fascinating. When it arrived it was over 400 pages of tiny writing and I thought that this would be a bit of a challenge.
From the start, the story of modern China is personified in the various characters that the author follows around, this makes the book very readable and easy to connect with. Even though the characters are imaginable, their situations are very difficult to picture and their attitudes are even harder to empathise with. Industrial China is far removed from our world, although in some ways there is a lot of commonality.
I've never been to China but the descriptions from friends who have been tally with this book, with one of the main impressions being the pace of life and the fast changes - "everything is in the process of becoming something else". The atmosphere created is exactly how I think it is at the moment, plenty of people on the move and relationships all very short. Some people are brought into the narrative and disappear very quickly, never to be mentioned again.
The author digresses away from the story of the factory girls as she takes the opportunity to investigate and report on her family's history. This is not completely in the spirit of the book but does give the chance to present a whistle stop summary of Chinese modern history, giving a background to the personal stories. I got quite confused in this section, a family tree would have been great as all the the Zhangs started to merge at one point.
Great book which is very accessible.
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