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

Private Revolutions: Four Women Face China's New Social Order By Yuan Yang Cover Image
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“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

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.

About the Author

Yuan Yang is a campaigner and former journalist standing for parliamentary selection in the Labour Party. She is a former columnist and Europe-China correspondent at the Financial Times and the cofounder of the charity Rethinking Economics, which campaigns for a more diverse and realistic economics curriculum. She studied philosophy, politics and economics at the University of Oxford and has a master’s in economics from the London School of Economics.

Praise For…

Praise for Private Revolutions:

“A portrait both sweeping and intimate — as much a study of a radically changing society as of four very different people.” The New York Times

“The riveting book that results from Yang’s persistence is a powerful snapshot of four young Chinese women attempting to assert control over the direction of their lives, escape the narrow confines of their patriarchal rural roots and make it in the big city . . . Yang’s reportage offers up raw human stories . . . because she documents each woman’s journey from childhood, including encounters with casual sexism, intermittent personal violence and the impossible weight of parental expectations, we can appreciate just how far they have come as adults — and just how far they have to fall.” New York Times Book Review

“The prose is as powerfully intimate as it is politically incendiary, tackling the censorship and economic voraciousness plaguing China today head on.” British Vogue

“An engrossing new book that meticulously reports on a country in the throes of change, using the lives and choices of four women from her own generation as a lens.” The Guardian

“[Private Revolutions] is the tale of a unique time and an intimate picture of what it was like to live through, and learn to navigate, the storm.” —Isabel Hilton, The Guardian

“[Yang] knows how to tell a story and how to capture attention. Each of these interwoven tales is studded with fascinating details.” —The Times

“Yang’s book captures the contradictions and nuances of modern China.” —The New Statesman

“Yang offers a fresh interpretation of the ongoing nature of China’s many upheavals, the actual effects of its oft-discussed policies, the cost of its meteoric economic growth, and the role a new generation of women is poised to play. [Private Revolutions is] a highly revealing, human-centered cultural inquiry.” Kirkus (Starred Review)

“This engaging effort follows four women from childhood to the current day as they navigate city life and establish careers, documenting their struggles with school admissions and quotas, educational scams, unsafe working conditions, forays into social activism, and family and corporate intrigues…This very readable account offers rare and unblinking insights into modern China.” Booklist (starred review)

“A portrait of the country through four women who grew up there in the eighties and nineties and refused to accept the life laid out for them. Activists, factory workers, pig farmers turned students: they provide incredible insight into the lives of ordinary Chinese people.” The Sunday Times Best Books of 2024

“Yang provides a fascinating portrait of womanhood and society in a rapidly evolving—and increasingly repressive—global superpower.” —Waterstones Best Books of 2024

“A revelatory, moving and tender tale of hopes, fears and change. A real eye-opener about life in contemporary China.” —Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads

“This is a book of delights. Yuan Yang shows us the real China in all its complexity – the rich, detailed, often brutal life of the villages and cities. Anyone who wants to understand what China and the Chinese are like will find great pleasure, and sometimes pain, in reading it.”  —John Simpson

“Written by one of the most sensitive and acute chroniclers of contemporary China working today, this is a beautiful, immersive, moving account of the country’s whirlwind transformations since the 1990s, told through the lives of four extraordinarily resilient and idealistic Chinese women.” —Julia Lovell, author of Maoism and The Opium War

Private Revolutions has the extraordinary, novelistic power to show how everyday lives on the other side of the world are actually lived that won Behind the Beautiful Forevers a Pulitzer… A landmark work.” —Felix Martin, author of Money

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593493908
ISBN-10: 0593493907
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: July 2nd, 2024
Pages: 304
Language: English