LOTUS is the first novel of Chinese writer Lijia Zhang, who began her working life at 16 in a factory that produced intercontinental missiles, taught herself English by listening to the music of The Carpenters, and now works as a journalist and social commentator in Beijing.
I’ll be interviewing her on Monday on Impact on BBC World News (1330 BST).
“Lotus” is about prostitutes in steamy southern Shenzhen, the city just north of Hong Kong. What they are like, why they do it, and how they came to be there. Zhang says it’s a myth to think the lives of all sex workers are all misery. At best, they can earn and live for themselves. But at worst – and what an awful worst – they’re raped and constantly exploited. And that is how many begin.
Like Lijia Zhang’s own grandmother. The novel is rooted in a story revealed on a deathbed, the family secret of her grandmother’s past, sold to a brothel when she was just fourteen. Continue reading