Zhang Lijia was inspired by the secret life of her grandmother to investigate China’s massive underground sex industry. She will talk about how she gained insight into the trade which formed the basis of her new novel, Lotus – a story of a young migrant-worker-turned-prostitute as she carves out a life for herself in Shenzhen, China’s ‘City of Sins’. In addition to some fascinating and colourful anecdotes, Lijia will discuss the deeply-flawed current legal system tasked with managing the social problem, such as ‘custody and education’, similar to the notorious ‘laogai’; how the working girls have often been brutally treated; the broad social issues that have led to the spectacular rise of China’s sex industry, and the growing gender inequality in the reform era.
The event will be moderated by Ian Johnson, a Beijing-based correspondent for the New York Times, the New York Review of Books and other publications. His next book, The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao, will be published in April.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Zhang Lijia, is a Beijing-based writer and social commentator and the author of the memoir “Socialism is Great!.” Lotus – a story of a migrant-worker-turned-prostitute – is her first novel.