Factory Girls by Leslie T. Chang
From Village to City in a Changing China

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Synopsis

An eye-opening and previously untold story, Factory Girls is the first look into the everyday lives of the migrant factory population in China.


China has 130 million migrant workers—the largest migration in human history. In Factory Girls, Leslie T. Chang, a former correspondent for the Wall Street Journal in Beijing, tells the story of these workers primarily through the lives of two young women, whom she follows over the course of three years as they attempt to rise from the assembly lines of Dongguan, an industrial city in China’s Pearl River Delta.

As she tracks their lives, Chang paints a never-before-seen picture of migrant life—a world where nearly everyone is under thirty; where you can lose your boyfriend and your friends with the loss of a mobile phone; where a few computer or English lessons can catapult you into a completely different social class. Chang takes us inside a sneaker factory so large that it has its own hospital, movie theater, and fire department; to posh karaoke bars that are fronts for prostitution; to makeshift English classes where students shave their heads in monklike devotion and sit day after day in front of machines watching English words flash by; and back to a farming village for the Chinese New Year, revealing the poverty and idleness of rural life that drive young girls to leave home in the first place. Throughout this riveting portrait, Chang also interweaves the story of her own family’s migrations, within China and to the West, providing historical and personal frames of reference for her investigation.

A book of global significance that provides new insight into China, Factory Girls demonstrates how the mass movement from rural villages to cities is remaking individual lives and transforming Chinese society, much as immigration to America’s shores remade our own country a century ago.
 

About Leslie T. Chang

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Leslie T. Chang lived in China for a decade as a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. She is married to Peter Hessler, who also writes about China. She lives in Colorado.
 
Published September 27, 2008 by Spiegel & Grau. 434 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Business & Economics, History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Factory Girls

Kirkus Reviews

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Former Wall Street Journal correspondent Chang penetrates the teeming world of young female migrant workers and finds, rather surprisingly, that it holds a lot more promise than being stuck on the farm.

Sep 01 2008 | Read Full Review of Factory Girls: From Village t...

The New York Times

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Some day the manic thrust of China’s continuing dash for development will have passed, and the quest for leisure so cherished in developed countries will become as commonplace among Chinese as their current thirst for achievement.

Oct 21 2008 | Read Full Review of Factory Girls: From Village t...

The New York Times

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Toward the end of “Factory Girls,” her engrossing account of the lives of young migrant workers in southern China, Leslie Chang describes receiving a gift.

Nov 07 2008 | Read Full Review of Factory Girls: From Village t...

The Guardian

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Factory Girls: Voices from the Heart of Modern China by Leslie T Chang 420pp, Picador, £12.99 Chinese Whispers: Searching for Forgiveness in Beijing by Jan Wong 320pp, Atlantic, £8.99 Lion's Head, Four Happiness by Xiaomei Martell 212pp, Vintage, £8.99 It is easy to spot the migrant workers o...

Jun 06 2009 | Read Full Review of Factory Girls: From Village t...

Examiner

By interviewing several girls and striking up a friendship that lasts for a couple of years, we get to follow the lives of these factory girls through the eyes of a Chinese American.

May 03 2012 | Read Full Review of Factory Girls: From Village t...

The Independent

It is also an uplifting book, for the defiant and determined voices of the girls stand out: "In all the time I knew them," Chang writes, "the migrant girls never asked me for help, and rarely even for advice.

Mar 13 2009 | Read Full Review of Factory Girls: From Village t...

Christian Science Monitor

Hoping to get an insider’s look at the lives of China’s more than 100 million migrant workers, Chang followed two young women – Chunming and Min, both assembly-line workers – from one factory to another as they changed jobs numerous times.

Oct 06 2008 | Read Full Review of Factory Girls: From Village t...

San Francisco Chronicle

China is in the midst of the largest migration in human history: 130 million migrant workers, mainly women younger than 30, have abandoned traditional Chinese villages and begun a new life in the Pearl River Delta.

Oct 12 2008 | Read Full Review of Factory Girls: From Village t...

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

Factories, factories, factories, the metal lattices of their gates drawn shut like nets.

Mar 04 2010 | Read Full Review of Factory Girls: From Village t...

London Review of Books

Surprisingly, data for late last year and early this year, including the crucial Spring Festival period in late January and early February, show that consumers in China spent over 20 per cent more than in the same period a year earlier.

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Bookmarks Magazine

Her readable, compelling account of human migration in Factory Girls will open many eyes, particularly in her in-depth profiles of young women who face nearly intolerable working conditions and ruthless competition ("People who are too honest in this society will lose out," the instructor of a tu...

Oct 13 2008 | Read Full Review of Factory Girls: From Village t...

Project MUSE

Through these people and their network of friends and acquaintances in their interaction with the author, we come to know closely the thousands upon thousands of factory girls who come and go in Dongguan, a city whose inhabitants are constantly on the move.

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Nashville Public Library

(A sign outside advertised, in English, Microsoft Worb.)” She takes you on hilarious side trips into hyped up etiquette training sessions and inane adventures of an “Assembly Line English” training academy along with the fun involved at the Donnguan Making Friends Club.

Jun 12 2010 | Read Full Review of Factory Girls: From Village t...

truthdig

Photographer Nick Knight is the exhibition’s creative consultant working with exhibition design consultant Sam Gainsbury (who was creative director for the Met’s Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition in 2011) and production designer Gideon Ponte (a set and production designer for photo shoo...

Apr 30 2013 | Read Full Review of Factory Girls: From Village t...

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Scruggs, January 24, 2007 at 5:06 pm Link to this comment(Unregistered commenter).

Jan 17 2007 | Read Full Review of Factory Girls: From Village t...

truthdig

Back then, he declared himself “a proponent of a single-payer universal health care program”—i.e., one eliminating private insurers and their overhead costs by having government finance health care.

May 15 2009 | Read Full Review of Factory Girls: From Village t...

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Mar 04 2012 | Read Full Review of Factory Girls: From Village t...

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