The always worthwhile China Beat has a great post up by Leslie T. Chang. Ms. Chang is a former WSJ reporter who just wrote a book called Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China, due out in October.
The post both previews the book and highlights the differences between writing for the Wall Street Journal and writing a book.
If these two paragraphs from the book are any indication, I expect the book will be riveting:
When you met a girl from another factory, you quickly took her measure. “What year are you?” you asked each other, as if speaking not of human beings but of the makes of cars. “How much a month? Including room and board? How much for overtime?” Then you might ask what province she was from. You never asked her name.
To have a true friend inside the factory was not easy. Girls slept twelve to a room, and in the tight confines of the dorm it was better to keep your secrets. Some girls joined the factory with borrowed ID cards and never told anyone their real names. Some spoke only to those from their home provinces, but that had risks: Gossip traveled quickly from factory to village, and when you went home every auntie and granny would know how much you made and how much you saved and whether you went out with boys.
The post certainly is.