Writer, journalist, social commentator
Travels from London.
Lijia Zhang is a rocket factory girl-turned writer, journalist and social commentator. She is the author of the acclaimed memoir “Socialism is Great!” relating her decade long experience working at a missile factory in Nanjing in the 80s. Her journey from a factory worker to an international writer reflects the dramatic transformation that China has undergone.
She is on top of the changes in China´s capital, its culture and changes in the position of women. In January 2017 she published a novel on prostitution in China, based on her grandmother’s experiences, Lotus: A Novel, well reviewed by many reviewers.
She is an impassioned and humorous speaker.
“If David Copperfield had been a Chinese girl in the 1980s, in the city of Nanjing, he might have ended up on the assembly line at Liming Machinery Factory, under the authority of the Ministry of Aerospace Industry, making missiles capable of reaching North America. Has the blacking factory ever seemed so benign in comparison? In ‘Socialism is Great!’ Lijia Zhang has written a beautiful memoir of this important period, when China began to recover from its political traumas and open to the outside world. Our current China literature is heavy with victim memoirs, but this is a true tale of aspiration: a young woman coming of age in a nation desperately trying to do the same.”
—Peter Hessler, Bejing correspondent for The New Yorker and author of Oracle Bones and River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze.
She discusses in 2018 at the New York Times the gender discrimination at China’s job market
Zhang Lijia discusses her life as an author in 2023 at the British Library