Ex Libris Kirkland

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Subtitle From Village to City in a Changing China
First Written 2008
Genre Non-fiction
Origin China
Publisher Spiegel & Grau
ISBN-10 0385520174
ISBN-13 978-0385520171
My Copy Library Hardback
First Read January 06, 2009

Factory Girls

The ache of the traveler returning home is a classic theme in Chinese literature. One of the first poems a schoolchild learns, from the eighth century, is about a man who goes back to his village after a lifetime away, to find that he no longer belongs:

'I left home as a youth, and as an old man returned / My accent unchanged but my temples turned gray / The children see me but don't know who I am / Laughing, they ask where the stranger is from.'

Quoted on September 28, 2011

I came to like Dongguan, which seemed a perverse expression of China at its most extreme. Materialism, environmental ruin, corruption, traffic, pollution, noise, prostitution, bad driving, short-term thinking, stress, striving, and chaos: If you could make it here, you'd make it anywhere. . . . Dongguan is invisble to the outside world. Most of my friends in Beijing had passed through the city but all they remembered--with a shudder--were the endless factories and the prostitutes. I had stumbled on this secret world, one that I shared with seven million, or eight million, or maybe ten million other people. Living in Dongguan was like arriving in it for the first time, hurtling down the highway at seventy miles an hour, the scenery changing too fast to keep track of it. Dongguan was a place without memory.

Quoted on September 28, 2011

Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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