Nicola's Reviews > Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China

Factory Girls by Leslie T. Chang
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's review
Jul 10, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, recommended

When my sister asked what I was reading recently, I told her it was a book about Chinese factory workers.

“God, you’re worthy,” she replied scathingly.

But the thing is – despite its worthy subject matter and uncomfortably small print – Factory Girls is actually a highly enjoyable read. Providing a flipside to all those “terrible working conditions, suicides, general calamity” articles about manufacturing in China, Leslie T Chang seeks to find out more about the average Chinese factory worker on a very human level.

What she finds is, yes, long hours and exploitation for many. But she also finds a number of spirited, ambitious young women whose lives are surprisingly easy to relate to. Through these highly-personal stories, Chang draws out some very interesting analysis of Chinese culture and society in the 21st century.

The book’s only misstep, in my opinion, is Chang’s decision to include lengthy digressions into her own family history. It felt a little like Chang was trying to research her family tree on her publisher’s dime.

That aside, Factory Girls is illuminating and eminently readable. Recommended.
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