As she tracks their lives, Chang paints a never-before-seen picture of migrant life - a world where nearly everyone is under 30; where you can lose your boyfriend and your friends with the loss of a mobile phone; and 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.
©2008 Leslie Chang; (P)2008 Tantor
"A gifted storyteller, Chang plumbs...private narratives to craft a work of universal relevance." (Publishers Weekly)
"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)
Factory Girls is one of only a couple of audiobooks I have enjoyed listening to more than once. It provides an insight into the lives of the women who make the things we buy in the West and follows their personal ambitions and lives.
The book takes a digression as the author talks about her family history, this is part of the overall "migration story" which is the crux of the book. Although this is interesting, it does not quite fit and I would prefer to have the time be used to discuss the workers themselves. Don't let this stop you from an otherwise great listen, however!
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
Leslie Chang is perfectly suited for this journey into the heart of China’s economic transformation. Ms. Chang works for the “Wall Street Journal”. She has family experience of imperial and communist China from the 1920s to the present; she speaks Mandarin Chinese, and grew up in the United States. Chang brings intimate perspective to the dynamics of economic and social change in 21st century China.
“Factory Girls” offers a glimpse of the tremendous cultural change occurring in today’s China. Sixteen year old girls are leaving rural China to seek their future in the City. With little formal education, they fuel the engines of China’s rapid industrial growth. Chang follows several of these amazing young women back and forth from their rural beginnings to their immersion in the difficult life of factory work.
China is not America. Chang’s book is frightening to a parent in an American culture that practices and endorses extended childhood. Imagine an American sixteen year old daughter taking a train to a city where she knows no one, has no financial support, and is expected to make her own living. Imagine an American daughter that has no opportunity except as a barer of male children. What is a Chinese female to do if her life options are so limited? What is any human to do if their options are unfairly limited?
“Factory Girls” is an impressive report of the massive cultural change occurring in China. It is an astounding affirmation of the “will to power” outlined by Friedrich Nietzsche. One cannot help but admire the factory girls of China as ugly as the reality of their lives seem to “too comfortable” Americans.
Excellent reporting. Recommend.
The narrator, Susan Ericksen, is a poor choice for this material. She does not know how to properly pronounce the Mandarin Chinese vocabulary that is part of this story. The audiobook's producers should have hired a Mandarin dialect coach to teach Ericksen Mandarin vowels, consonants -- and why not? -- tones. Even if the listener does not speak a word of Mandarin, one expects the performance to be correct.
This book really helps me understand doing business with China. I had no idea that there was this life going on overseas. They really rely on us bringing them work. Its very educational and entertaining. I just think it dragged in parts especially following the author's heritage. That got a little boring and I got lost. But there is no book like this and everyone should know where everything we use daily comes from. How much labor goes into everything and how PEOPLE make it all, not machines.
As a native Chinese who went to college in the US and was recommended by our college this book about my own country, it was interesting- sometimes eye-opening to learn about the migrant life and parts of history of China in English. I had absolutely no problem learning the stories about China in English, except for the painful American pronunciation of the Chinese terms in the audio book.
The narrator is good at acting out different characters , but couldn't learn any basics of the Chinese language to pronounce the many Chinese Terms in a more authentic way. Is it too demanding to ask for a narration that respects the Chinese language more?Ofc everyone has a right to only speak one's native tone, but when one meets a different culture in a different language and has to deal with it professionally, should one at least research on it a bit? Not every sound in the world's language is contained in English, so please stop brutally raping other languages in English. Sounded like the narrator didn't prepare to read at all, and every time she bumped into a Chinese term(which was a lot) she Americanized it with a "wth-this-Chinese-term-looks-so-weird" spirit.
This downgraded the whole audible experience. I sincerely advice audible to hire more bilinguals to narrate books on other cultures or originally in other languages.
Here is the human face of Chinese success. These girls are cast adrift in a Kafkaesque landscape of out of control croney capitalism and socialist sloganeering. Some of these girls have had no contact wtih the State in their entire lives. It sort of gives the lie to the all encompassing and omniscient State in China. There is a bomb ticking in China, but it is not the one everyone thinks it is. This is an important book and you should read it if you want to understand what is going on in China. Susan Ericksen give it a heartfelt and warm reading.
I found this to be dull and boring. I wanted it to draw me in, make me care about the characters. It fell way short!
This was a book that averaged out to be a three for me. There were parts that were five, others four, others two or less. I visited China in 2007 and wanted to experience a side that is not readily revealed to the tourists on the tours. There were parts of the book I really enjoyed but it tended to drag on. A shorter version would have been much better.
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