Factory Girls

  • by Leslie T. Chang
  • Narrated by Susan Ericksen
  • 14 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 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.

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What the Critics Say

"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)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Living in Shenzhen - and What A Disappointment

The subject matter of this book is compelling from so many different perspectives. Having lived in Shenzhen since the mid-90's, and having spent many years in the trading business and more time than I care to admit trudging around factories in China, I was very excited to see this book come out, and was expecting so much from it. The information conveyed here is really good, and the author does a very workmanlike job of conveying factual (mostly) information. The writing, however, is horrendous. I've read better on the back of cereal boxes - seriously. I honestly don't understand why a publisher would let this out of their shop - I can only guess its because of her connections with the WSJ. And the only thing worse than the writing is the narration. The narrator has no passion for the subject matter, and it comes off exactly that way. She makes bland writing even worse. And as for the pronunciation of the Chinese, it's abysmal, inconsistent (the city of Dongguan comes up several hundred times in the book, and she butchers it at least 6 different ways, including pronouncing backwards once); I didn't hear one Chinese word that was even close to correct pronunciation. For anyone that lives in China interested in this compelling topic, it's like listening to fingernails on a chalkboard. I struggled through it only because I have a personal interest in the topic. If I saw anything else from this writer or the narrator, I'd steer well clear of it.
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- Ravenmaster "Raven"

Cumulative Effect

Leslie Chang, a Chinese-American writer, has produced an informative volume about the Chinese migration of women from rural areas and life to urban living. She accomplishes this by telling the stories of individual and groups of women. She illustrates the book with direct quotes and closely written stories. She works very hard to help the reader understand what is taking place through Chinese eyes.

The book is great to listen to and is very informative. After listening I thought that the same information could have been presented in less space and with fewer words. After a few days of reflection, however, I believe her approach enables to listener/reader to internalize the situation in urban China or get a feel for what is taking place. The cumulative effect is positive and was, in my case, informative.

The reading of the book is excellent.
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- Roy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-09-2009
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio