Zhang Lijia, the author of the wildly successful ““Socialism Is Great!”: A Worker’s Memoir of the New China” recently got her long-overdue lemma in the world’s online encyclopedia Wikipedia, and she guided the Lonely Planet Magazine through her home-town Beijing.
Fergal Keane of the Lonely Planet Magazine was guided through Beijing by Zhang Lijia.
Like so many of the capital’s residents, Lijia is not a native. She was brought up in the old imperial capital Nanjing, in the Yangtze Delta. Her story is typical of modern China’s narrative of change. She was a promising student with a love of English literature, but poverty forced her to leave school at 16 to become a factory worker. Within a decade, though, as China’s economic reforms created opportunities for the young and energetic, she quit the industrial drudgery and moved to Beijing.
I met her when she was translating for foreign journalists at the beginning of her own career as a writer; she was a young woman with a hearty laugh and an irreverent sense of humour. Fifteen years later she is the respected author of a
best-selling memoir, the ironically titled Socialism is Great, is writing a novel on prostitution and also acts as a guide
for travellers who want to experience Beijing’s rich intellectual heritage. ‘If you come here as a tourist, the danger is that you only get the big hotels, the shopping malls and a quick tour of the Forbidden City or the old Summer Palace,’ she says.
More in Lonely Planet Magazine.
- “Midnight in Beijing” – Paul French (chinaspeakersbureau.info)
- Party secretary puts squeeze on Sina Weibo – Jeremy Goldkorn (chinaherald.net)
- Pay back time for the Beijing Olympics – Victor Shih (chinaspeakersbureau.info)
- After the kids, mom and dad will get fat – Paul French (chinaherald.net)
- Louis Vuitton strengthens brand at Beijing museum – Shaun Rein (chinaspeakersbureau.info)