City of Industry

Before, if I wanted insight into the changing face of modern China, I had only to consult Peter Hessler, the keen-voiced journalist and Beijing correspondent for the New Yorker who digs right into the character of the nation by pitching his tent among its everyday people to write books like River Town and Oracle Bones. But now there are new perspectives blowing my way from former Wall Street Journal correspondent Leslie T. Chang, who wonderfully, impossibly, turns out to be Hessler’s wife. What a team.

Chang’s new book, Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China, delves into the impersonal, anthill world of China’s factory towns, where thousands of rural migrants work long hours under sometimes feudal conditions. Centering on the experience of these workers, most of them young women far from their homes, Chang explores life in Dongguan, an industrial zone thirty miles by bus from Guangzhou, which she describes as “a city built for machines, not people” and “a perverse expression of China at its most extreme.” Remarkably, she tempers the contemporary story by setting it against the backdrop of her own family history. Here’s to many more books from Leslie Chang.

Chang will discuss and sign copies of Factory Girls tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover, 2526 East Colfax Avenue; for information, log on to www.tatteredcover.com or call 303-322-7727.
Tue., Oct. 7, 2008

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