Leslie T. Chang lived in China for a decade as a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, specializing in stories that explored how socioeconomic change is transforming institutions and individuals. She has also written for The New Yorker, National Geographic, and Condé Nast Traveler. Factory Girls is her first book.
A graduate of Harvard University with a degree in American History and Literature, Chang has also worked as a journalist in the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. She was raised outside New York City by immigrant parents.
She and her husband, writer Peter Hessler, live in Cairo with their two daughters.
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In Conversation with Leslie T. Chang, author of Factory Girls
There's been a lot written in recent years on the sweatshop
conditions inside Chinese factories. Yet in Factory Girls, you describe a
job on the assembly line in terms of adventure, opportunity, even liberation.
Doesn't this contradict the reality of factory life?
Certainly conditions in the factories are tough. Most of the young women I got to know while researching this book worked thirteen hours a day, seven days a week when they first started out. Their wages were often late; many had no idea how much they would be paid from month to month, because the factory charged fees for all sorts of things over which they had no control. But you have to remember that the world looks very different when you're coming from a Chinese farming village. What we think of as miserable living conditionsbad food, tedious labor, living twelve or fifteen to a roomare a given to these workers. Their response is usually not to complain or protest, as a typical American might, but to look for any slight advantage that would lead to an improvement in their situations. I think that's the reason you see a lot less protest in these factories than you ...
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