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3.57  ·  Rating details ·  663 ratings  ·  120 reviews
Inspired by the secret life of the author’s grandmother, Lotus follows a young woman torn between past traditions and modern desires―as she carves out a life for herself in China’s “City of Sins”

“Standing outside the Moonflower Massage Parlor with three other girls, Lotus flashed her red smile at every passing man. She leaned against the glass front of the parlor, one leg
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 10th 2017 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Average rating 3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  663 ratings  ·  120 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
Oct 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Lotus is a young prostitute, working in China. This is a contemporary story portraying the life of prostitution of China today. Prostitution is illegal. Pictures of 'Ji' are not seen publicly anywhere. "It was as if the countries estimated 10 million working girls didn't exist".

At the beginning -- the first day of the millennium, Lotus is away from the massage parlor where she works day in and day out, taking in the beauty of city of Shenzhen, just north of Hong Kong looking at the skyscrapers.
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Lotus has left her rural village of Sichuan during Spring Festival 1995, in search of a better life. She refuses to comply with a fixed marriage choosing instead to seek employment in the city. She is ill equipped for this new life since she is an uneducated migrant unfamiliar with the mores of urban city employees. She wants to make money to send home proving that city dwelling has been worthwhile.

Lotus's first job is gluing shoes in a shoe factory. Upon the death of her cousin, Little Red, whe
Leah Rachel von Essen
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was warily excited about Lotus by Lijia Zhang when I first began. It’s a piece of historical fiction about a prostitute named Lotus who is trying to support her family back home and a photographer named Bing recording the story of migrant sex workers. I was excited, then slowly but surely disappointed, with some high points, by the end of the novel. I was sent a copy of this novel by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I have to admit, I wasn’t pleased by the twists and turns this ...more
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it

Wow this is truly an insightful read and I’m glad I picked it up! I strongly urge everyone to read Lotus if you’re looking for a diverse read and a novel that explores important themes such as gender and social class, and the taboo topic of prostitution in China. I can’t recommend this enough!
Mar 02, 2017 rated it did not like it
I have strange pet peeves when it comes to writing. There are certain turns of phrases that when used demand being expanded upon. The one that rings clearest and earliest in this book is, “There was something about _____”. It doesn’t matter what it is, what you are waxing on about, when those words are written I demand that you try and pin down that something. You might not when, but if you are going to put some emotional weight into a moment you need to try and make it poetry, to show the reade ...more
Mar 08, 2017 rated it did not like it
A prostitute w/ heart of gold who falls in love with a nice dude who treats her right? If this is a fresh concept to you, you may like this book!

Oof. What a disappointment. The prose was pretty stale—maybe this is a translation issue? I hope this is a translation issue—and the book seems to not know whether it's a social commentary on China's treatment of prostitutes, an erotic romance, or some combination of the two? And that'd be great, if it succeeded at either. I was pretty surprised this w
Breslin White
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm hoping the author writes a second book, because her writing style makes me want to read more. Although the subject matter is very raunchy, it's never approved of by the narrator. This book could be compared and contrasted with Mingmei Yip's Peach Blossom Pavillion. ...more
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, arc
A compelling read, with bits of magical learnings about self-worth and candid slow prose to soothe the ridged reality. I liked this a lot, it is only missing a dollop of perceived links between wishful thinking and the actual characters.
The book is structured by chapters with delightful titles, giving a hint about the atmosphere to come.
The slow pace of the prose matches very well the transformation of the main character, Lotus, from massage parlour ji (low class prostitute) to becoming a teac
Katie/Doing Dewey
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Summary: This was a slow paced book, but the character and relationship development were touching and believable.

"Surviving by her wits alone, Lotus charges headlong into the neon lights of Shenzhen, determined to pull herself out of the gutter and decide her own path." However, she quickly finds herself working as a "massage girl" or prostitute while lying to her family about the source of the money she sends home. The men who notice her provide her many opportunities for a chance at security,
Oct 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
An insightful, well-written novel into what being a prostitute was like in Deng's China.

Lotus is a prostitute living in the slums of Shenzhen, China, having left the village she was born in to try to avoid village gossip and make a life for herself. This book details her life and the people in it - her fellow prostitutes, potential boyfriends, family members back home. She struggles with faith, the expensive barriers to social mobility, feelings of self-worth, and ideas of independence in this
Joe Tingle
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
A slow read. The writing style has its own unique flavor of a Chinese author who is competent at English while retaining a certain Chinese thought process. I do not dislike it, and found its somewhat stunted and idiomatic style to be unique. The prose could be more descriptive however and the plot is full of cliches and uninspired musings on the ugly side of modern China, complete with corrupt officials, cheating husbands, prostitution, the tiananmen square massacre, etc. Zhang Lijia obviously k ...more
Kate Walton
Aug 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: china, fiction
This had potential and started strong, but I found myself growing uninterested with the book as it turned into a love story about who Lotus would or would not choose. Not to mention the too-easy-ending of how supposedly she has escaped prostitution and been redeemed as a teacher, now a valuable member of society. Too many cliches, including the wise old religious figures who guides her to a decision, for this to be a great book.
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An innocent young migrant worker in 1990s Shenzhen sinks into a life of prostitution, and gradually transcends her fate. There are many such stories, and this one doesn't break new ground in that regard. The novel paints a fairly detailed picture of the underbelly of Chinese society, with an ensemble of women, each of whom has her own story of how she arrived in that position, and a photographer who quit the business world to document the lives of China's sex workers. Much detail is given to des ...more
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
断断续续花了一星期看了一本知音--性工作转行结缘日记?莲花为钱下海,工作偶尔有客户让她高潮,结实离异中年摄影胡老湿,云雨变真爱?庙中逃难三日 拒鸳鸯齐飞 留深圳变园丁?

I don't know how to make comment on this novel--too sexual, exotic that I would rather read sociological essays to understand sex workers. "Sex workers" have been the attention in more than academia for so long, and I was expecting Zhang would go deeper than news reports, or probably her taking of novel--a literary genre--would have made the story of Lotus (a very oriental name) more powerful. But no, I only see
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: quilt-book-club, 2019
So glad I persisted with this book--it was a fascinating glimpse of life in China, seen through the eyes of a young woman who turns to prostitution to support herself and the family back home in her village. But the seamy side of life is never the point with this book--Lotus has a spiritual and cerebral side--she thinks, schemes, and grows.
Jun 03, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
Sydney Hzr
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
what a story, what an invisible world
Kathleen Gray
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating tale of a woman in 1990s China trying to navigate the ugly side of a country undergoing major cultural and economic change. This is all the better, I think, for the fact that Zhang has bravely revealed her own family history. Lotus is a woman to be admired for her tenacity in the face of a just dreadful situation. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. THis is an admirable debut from an author I hope writes more fiction.
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Throughout most of this book I was having reservations, but in the end, I think the author did a good job. The author tackles a complicated subject very well without over-simplifying issues or the characters themselves. I think ti was well written considering that English is not the author's native language and this is not a translation. ...more
Jesse Field
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: story
Early in *Lotus,* the novel’s main character, Bing, thinks to himself, “Commercialization and modernity had eaten away China’s romantic edge.” Local author Zhang Lijia seems keen to bring the romance back.

She brings us a classic tale: Lotus, a poor young woman from Sichuan now working as a prostitute in Shenzhen, meets Bing, a divorced 40-something with a penchant for photographing Shenzhen prostitutes. Bing is instantly smitten, but Lotus, having learned the hardness of the world, treads lightl
Oct 02, 2020 rated it liked it
It is a great story but it could've been much shorter.
Dec 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lotus follows a young migrant girl from a rural village who finds herself turning to prostitution to not only stay in Shenzhen, but to also support her family back in Sichuan.

The book portrays the working "ji" (a term for prosititutes) as women who have all one way or another fallen into the sex trade because it is a lucrative way of supporting themselves or their families. The women are victims, but their boss, Moon, does not force them into their work, instead she provides a safe environment
'Lotus' is a buildungsroman of a young woman from present-day China. With her mother dead and her father living as an abusive drunk, Lotus dreams of a better life and leaves her rural village to seek work in one of the large factories on the coast. Nearly all of her money goes home to care for her younger brother, who also dreams of leaving the village and enrolling in college. When a fire breaks out at the factory, she does not return home but remains in the city and finds work as a ji, a prost ...more
Fleurtje Eliza
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a really interesting story making me as a reader feel that these characters were real. There were normal, real emotions: confusions, struggles to make a better life for either a loved one or for one self, hope, love, guilt, shame.

I am looking forward to another book by this author.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of the book.
Nov 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Lotus is the nom de guerre of a young woman from rural China, who left the village to seek better employment in the factories. On her deathbed, her mother had told her to take care of her younger brother; she intends to make money to support the family and send her brother to high school and university. After her cousin dies in a factory fire- the building locked to prevent workers from escaping- she moves on to the city. Here she soon finds herself working as a ji- a sex worker- in a low rent m ...more
Jan 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
I enjoyed Lotus but it wasn't love at first sight. I had a hard time getting into the prose - Zhang's writing style isn't experimental or dramatic, but it took a while to align the way my mind moves with her words. Once I did I found myself drawn into the story of Lotus, a prostitute inspired by the secret life of the author's grandmother, and photojournalist Bing.

The style is simple and belies the well-laid out plot and deep characterization at work. We meet characters as whole people and learn
Jennifer Lin
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Let me start by saying one of my least-favorite movies is "Pretty Woman." I hate the message. Prostitute finds love, saved by wealthy Prince Charming. Yuck.
So it was with some trepidation that I started reading Lotus, the debut novel of Beijing-based journalist Lijia Zhang, which features as its main character a migrant "ji" or prostitute in the boom city of Shenzhen. But oh my, how Lotus delivers a wallop.
Set in China in the early 1990s, Lotus reveals so much about the stratification of Chine
Linda Zagon
Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I would like to thank NetGalley and Henry & Holt & Co. for the ARC of "Lotus" by Lijia Zhang. The author gives a historical perspective of China, the poverty and politics. I found the novel intriguing and I would recommend it. Lotus is the main character and represents many of the young girls leaving their home villages, and heading towards the main cities. The opportunities to make a living are scarce. Some girls work in factories in terrible conditions, and for very little money. Other girls l ...more
Lane Pybas
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: chinese-women
What’s more difficult than writing a novel about prostitution that isn’t sycophantic or exploitative? Doing it in a second language! That’s what Chinese writer Lijia Zhang has attempted to do here, with middling results. I think Zhang intended to write a sympathetic social commentary about prostitution in China, but the plot of Lotus (poor prostitute meets male benefactor who sort of exploits her, sort of helps pull her out of her condition for his own benefit) does little more in terms of analy ...more
Laura • lauralovestoread
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
4.5 stars for Lotus!!

"Lotus still held the coin as she walked down the hill. She decided that she wouldn't use her name, Xiangzhu, Fragrant Bamboo, anymore. From now on, she would simply be known as Lotus. "The lotus grows out of the mud yet remains pure and unstained"

There's something so magical about the life and influences that the story of Lotus brings. Set in modern day China, Lotus flees the rural farm life in favor of a bigger city after her mother dies, leaving her to tend to her younge
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Around the Year i...: Lotus, by Lijia Zhang 2 17 Jan 25, 2017 05:38AM  

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I am a rocket-factory-worker turned writer and social commentator. I grew up at a worker’s residential compound in Nanjing, on the bank of Yangtze River. Excelling at school, I dreamed of going to university and becoming a journalist and a writer. But at 16, I was taken out of school and put to work at my mother’s factory that produced inter-continental missiles, capable of reaching North America.

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