What inspired you to write this book?
The women I worked with at a television station in Beijing inspired me to write this book. I thought it was unfair that they were being berated for not having spouses, especially since they were just starting to build their careers. Despite having been the first generations of women in their families to attend college, attain graduate degrees, speak more than one language, and work in a big city – and at an international news network, no less – all of their accomplishments seemed to pale in comparison to the fact that they’d be going to see their families over Chinese New Year without signs of a potential life partner.
What can people expect from this book?
A more nuanced understanding of China, a human sense of the impact of the one-child policy, and how ironically – despite the infanticide and abortion of some 32 million baby girls, it has paved the way for a remarkably accomplished generation of women who are rewriting the timelines for young adulthood and pushing back against the traditional demands of a country whose society has not evolved as quickly or as vigorously as its economy.
What are the lessons you hope readers will take away?
For those who have never spent time there, China can feel very foreign. It’s an economic superpower and home to the largest population of women (and of men) on the planet, and yet, the average person has a superficial understanding of the country. The book is packed with anecdotes about Chinese traditions, superstitions, culture, and history, as well as little-known background information about the evolution of romantic love (as a reason for marriage) in China and the chilling origins of the one-child policy.
What was the catalyst for your journey?
I had just moved to China, and as a young reporter curious to get my head around this bewitching new place that seemed to be making headlines across the world, I wanted to find a slice of China that would help me understand the county as a whole. So much was being written about the country from an economic perspective – how it was “colonizing” large swaths of Africa, the Middle East and Latin America by building stadiums, airports, hospitals, etc, in exchange for access to natural resources – but there wasn’t as much on the social impact that such rapid economic growth and global dominance was having on its people.