About her public speaking:
Public speaking, at home and overseas, broadens her audience farther. “I spend a lot of time travelling for business and pleasure – it’s one of my passions,” she says. “I used to live in such a small, confined world. Now that I’m out of it, I try to make the best of this freedom.” On a recent trip to the US, Zhang “gave a breakfast talk at the Four Seasons Hotel to HSBC New York and some of its clients”, she says. “I talked about my life and recent social and cultural changes – stuff you don’t read in newspapers.” Then it was on to Chicago and “a discussion at the Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference, where my focus was Xi Jinping”.
About her new novel:
Yet Zhang has required still more avenues for the dissipation of a restless energy that perhaps built up during her decade in the depths of the well: witness the writing of her forthcoming debut novel.
Titled Lotus and set in Shenzhen, it stars a photojournalist and a young sex worker who, like much of China itself, is torn between ineradicable tradition and the temptations of a mutating modern world.
“I’m interested in prostitution because my grandma was a working girl in her youth,” reveals Zhang. “She was sold into prostitution after becoming an orphan. Since I discovered her secret, by her deathbed in 1998, it has fascinated me and I’ve wondered how the girls cope with life.”
Read the full interview here…
LiJia Zhang is a rocket factory girl turned writer, journalist and social commentator. She was born in 1964 and raised on the banks of the Yangtze River. At 16, she was pulled out of school to work at a factory that produced inter-continental missiles. As an escape route, she taught herself English. After she went to England in 1990 LiJia dared to pursue her childhood dream by studying journalism. Back in China a few years later, LiJia started her career as an assistant to foreign journalists before becoming a journalist of her own right. Her features, often very human stories about the plight of China’s “little people”, have been published in South China Morning Post, Far Eastern Economic Review, Japan Times, The Independent, The Observer, Newsweek and The New York Times. Her widely acclaimed English-language memoir, “Socialism is Great!”chronicled LiJia’s decade-long experience at the rocket factory. LiJia’s journey from a worker to a prominent social commentator reflects the great transformation undergone by China itself. Zhang LiJia has been featured on the BBC, Channel 4, ABC (Australian) CNN, CBS and National Public Radio, among others.