Factory Girls

Factory Girls

From Village to City in A Changing China

Paperback - 2009
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An eye-opening and previously untold story, Factory Girls is the first look into the everyday lives of the migrant factory population in China.

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 thirty; where you can lose your boyfriend and your friends with the loss of a mobile phone; 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.
Publisher: New York : Spiegel & Grau, 2009.
Edition: New ed.
ISBN: 9780385520188
Characteristics: 431 p. : map. ; 21 cm.


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WVMLStaffPicks Oct 20, 2014

Wall Street journalist Leslie Chang pieces together the lives of young factory workers in Dongguan, a city of more than 7 million migrants, and at the same time re-visits her Chinese heritage.

Sep 06, 2012

Really enjoyed this book. Before I read it, I thought it might be more of an examination of the bad practices that go on in factories in China. However, it is more an exploration of the lives of girls that work in these factories. Great read!

May 04, 2012

This is a must-read! For anyone who's wondered what 'Made in China' really means:


Jul 09, 2011

This is not a "novel" as another commentator seems to think. It is a fascinating non-fiction book that gives us an inside look at how much China has changed in the last 3 decades. Where does the western world get its enormous supply of affordable commercial goods? From the hard work of these migrant factory girls. And far from being cogs on an assembly line, these very young girls and women show a resolve and determination that we, western parents, struggle to instill in our own children. Their stories, and by connection the story of our evolving global economy, are wonderfully told in this book.

Oct 21, 2009

This novel is ok but I wasn't able to get past the first 100 pages. It reads like a news documentary, which I'd love to watch on tv but couldn't stay interested to read the 300+ pages

carknerdy Aug 12, 2009

Quite an interesting read for someone looking to see another side of China. It's about rural girls moving to the big industrial cities to work an endless series of anonymous, low-paying, precarious factory jobs.
The only drawback is that the American author makes her outsider views too central to the feeling of the book. She should have sat back and tried to report what the other people felt a bit more.

Aug 06, 2009

I knew many of the points illustrated in the book beforehand from other sources - most of them obtained during my life in Korea - but it did serve as a confirmation of the status of briskly changing china's cultural, economical, and moral landscape.


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Aug 06, 2009

"You had to believe that you mattered even though you were one among millions." (pg 55)

"The illicit assembly of authentic parts" (pg 101)


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