I am a rocket-factory-girl-turned writer, columnist and public speaker, and one of the few Chinese social commentators who write in English for international publications.
I was born into a poor working class family in Nanjing, on the banks of Yangtze River. Excelled at school, I dreamt of becoming a writer and a journalist. In 1980, aged 16, I was dragged out of school and put to work at a military factory that produced intercontinental missiles. It lasted for a decade. As an escape route, I taught myself English and took solace in literature.
I arrived in England in 1990, and a childhood dream stirred. I studied journalism. Returning to China three years later, I started my career by helping foreign correspondents before becoming a journalist of in own right. It was a struggle to write stories in English, but compared to my western colleagues, I believed that I had something different to offer: my insight into a culture that still remains largely unknown outside China. My articles, usually commentary pieces on China’s social, cultural and political changes, have been published in South China Morning Post, Far Eastern Economic Review, Japan Times, The Guardian, Newsweek and The New York Times.
A book of oral history of modern China commissioned by Oxford University Press whetted my appetite for book writing. I penned a memoir about my factory experience in the 80s’ which also reflected the great social transformation in China brought by the reforms and opening up. It enjoyed world-wide success.
I then launched my first fiction project – Lotus, which tells the story of a young working girl, set in modern day Shenzhen, known as China’s ‘capital of sins’. Like the city itself, Lotus is torn between the past tradition and modern desires. It will be published by Macmillan in March 2017.
I’ve lectured at many top universities, institutions, banks, and business conferences around the world, including Columbia University, Stanford, Harvard, London Business School, European Institute For Asian Studies and Eu-Asia Top Economist Round Table Forum. I’ve been featured on the BBC, Channel 4, ABC (Australian), Aljazeera, CNN, NPR, among other international media.
And for speech inquiries, please contact my agents Andrew Vine at Insight Bureau email@example.com or Priscilla Chan at Speakersconnect firstname.lastname@example.org
My website is: http://www.lijiazhang.com
Praise for “Socialism is Great!”
“Lijia Zhang’s book is gentle, funny and wry.”
–Arundhati Roy, the author of God of Small Things
“A remarkable memoir…. A notable historical document and a vivid, affecting portrait of a young woman’s resolve.”
“Set against China’s breathless recent transformation, ‘Socialism is Great!’ offers a rare and intimate glimpse of a country and culture that are now reshaping our world.”
–Pankaj Mishra, the author of The Romantics, An End to Suffering, and From the Ruins of Empire
Praise for Lotus
Lijia Zhang’s Lotus, her debut novel, unfolds like a mystical Oriental fan. All of the characters seem to be in various stages of awakening and decay, and suffering from various degrees of hopelessness and hopefulness all at the same time. What an insightful verdict against a society that seems to be spiraling out of control. One comes to love India because of Arundunti Roy’s God of Small Things, a Booker Prize winner, and one would surely love the hot and humid Southern China of her invention, through this brilliant novel. Both were debuts; both written in the most inventive prose. You will cry, and in the end, laugh in celebration not just of the winning characters, but Zhang’s true gift as an essential novelist of this world.
Da Chen New York Times bestselling author of: Colors of the Mountain, Brothers and My Last Empress.
Lotus is a rollicking, sexy novel, but it’s not just another fun read. The novel much provides so much insight into the underside of China’s roaring economy and the immense pressure on young migrants to get rich quick. In Lijia Zhang’s tour of the sex industry, you’ll find not only sleaze, but soul.
Barbara Demick, author of the National Book Award finalist Nothing to Envy and former China Bureau Chief for LA Times