Join writer, journalist and public speaker Lijia Zhang for a discussion about the sex trade in Shenzhen through her debut novel Lotus, which is inspired by Zhang’s grandmother’s secret life as a ‘flower girl’. The talk will be chaired by Jemimah Steinfeld, author of Little Emperors and Material Girls: Sex and Youth in Modern China.
Zhang interviewed sex workers in Shenzhen, Dongguang and Beijing when writing Lotus, attempting to make friends with the women she spoke to. However, it proved to be a very challenging task as they moved from city to city, and between massage parlours. She found that through learning more about the lives of the women she interviewed, she could explore China’s growing gap between men and women, urban and rural — as well as the tug of war between modernity and tradition.
As a teenager, Zhang worked in a factory producing missiles designed to reach the United States. In the oppressive routine of guarded compound and political meetings, Zhang’s disillusionment with ‘The Glorious Cause’ drove her to study English. By narrating the changes in her own life, Zhang has chronicled the momentous shift in China’s economic policy. She has given talks about contemporary China at institutions ranging from Stanford to Harvard.
This event has been sponsored by Cockayne Grants for the Arts, a donor-advised fund of the London Community Foundation. It is part of the Sin Cities: Vice & Virtue Across Asia’s Urban Landscapes series.
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General: £10, Concessions: £8, Members: £5
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