Private Revolutions: Four Women Face China's New Social Order

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
July 2024
9 hours 9 minutes
“Riveting . . . a powerful snapshot of four young Chinese women attempting to assert control over the direction of their lives.” —The New York Times Book Review

“As powerfully intimate as it is politically incendiary.” —British Vogue

A sweeping yet intimate portrait of modern China told through the lives of four ordinary women striving for a better future in a highly unequal society

While serving as the deputy Beijing bureau chief of the Financial Times, Chinese-British journalist Yuan Yang began to notice common threads in the lives of her Chinese peers—women born during China’s turn toward capitalism in the 1980s and 1990s, who, despite the country's enormous economic gains during their lifetimes, were coming up against deeply entrenched barriers as they sought to achieve financial stability.

The product of seven years of intimate, in-depth reporting, this transporting and indelible book traces the journey of four such women as they try to make better lives for themselves and their families in the new Chinese economy. June and Siyue are among the few in their villages to graduate high school. Each makes her way to Beijing, June as a young professional and Siyue an entrepreneur. Like Siyue, Leiya lives with her grandparents in their village while her parents send money home; yearning for a different life than those of the women she sees around her, Leiya soon joins her parents in Shenzhen as an underage factory worker. Born to an urban middle-class family, Sam is outraged when her eyes are opened the poor treatment of workers, and becomes a labor activist, increasingly under threat by the authorities.

As the women grapple with government policies that threaten their businesses, their children's access to education, their choice of where to make a home, and, in Sam’s case, their lives, a vivid, damning, and urgent picture emerges of the previously unseen human cost of China’s rising economic tide—and the courage and perseverance of those caught in the swell.
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