Socialism is Great! Is a spirited workers memoir of the New China, narrating the chronicles of the 1980s period and Lijia Zhangs personal triumph over a political controlled existence that could have been her journey.
Lijia Zhang worked from a teenager, for ten years, in a factory producing missiles designed to reach North America, she had to queue every month to provide evidence to the period police that she wasnt pregnant. Through the oppressive and boring routine of the guarded factory she was driven to study the English language, this intellectual growth strengthened her independence and she began wearing bright Western clothes and from there began organising demonstrations including Nanjing workers in support of the Tiananmen Square Protest in 1989, which was the largest of its kind. Through this Chinas economic policy shifted and her factory won the bid to cast a giant bronze Buddha.
In 1990, when Lijia was 26-years-old, she went to England and accomplished her dream of studying Journalism, when completed she returned to China and started assisting foreign journalists until she became a freelance journalist herself. Her articles normally in regards to Chinas little people were published in numerous major newspapers.
Lijia is now an acclaimed international journalist and a published author who has a MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths, University of London.
When did you feel obliged to write about your own personal struggle?Lijia Zhang:
After a lunch with a writer friend Peter Hessler in the end of 2000, when he learnt about my factory background, he suggested that I write an article about my experience for Asian Wall Street Journal which he was stringing for. After the publication of the article, many friends said: this was fascinating. Why don't you write a book?! I looked into the market and realised that there were/are so few memoirs set in the 80's. Yet, the 80's was the most fascinating period when China began to change and became what it is today, so I thought why not.
Did you do this for yourself, or to educate others? Lijia Zhang:
Both. Writing has always been my way to make sense of my life and my journey back then also reflects the journey China underwent in the 80's. I guess it is a classic case of telling the big story of a country in transition through personal experience.
What drew you to Journalism as a child? Lijia Zhang:
As a child, I didn't quite understand the difference between a writer and a journalist. I just had this writing dream. It came to my head and rooted there ever since my teacher read my compositions as good examples at Chinese literature class.
What do you believe is your biggest accomplishment out of so many, so far? Lijia Zhang:
Producing two happy, spirited daughters.
What is next for you? Lijia Zhang:
Continue to work as a journalist and writer, to help the West to understand China, to be the bridge between the two cultures. I have just finished my first novel Lotus, set in modern day Shenzhen, but it needs work.
You are so head-strong and dedicated where did you draw this from? Lijia Zhang:
My grandma, mother, Pavel Korchaguin, my Soviet hero from How Steel is Made, and Jane Eyre.
Have you been to Melbourne before? What are you looking forward to most? Lijia Zhang:
Yes, I went there with my ex-husband and my elder daughter ten years ago and enjoyed it enormously. I look forward to meeting friendly and open Australians, good-looking men in particular!
Why do you direct your Journalism articles to Chinas little people? Lijia Zhang:
I was one of them and I appreciate their plight and their struggle.
Lijia now lives in Beijing with her two daughters is attending the Melbourne Writers Festival, to be held in Federation Square, on August 29, 2008, her visit to Melbourne is supported by the Australia-China Council.
Socialism is Great!
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