Reviewed by: Sooz
Approximate word count: 70-75,000 words
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Chun Yu Wang was born in China and moved to Saipan to work in a garment factory in 2000. You can learn more at her weibsite.
Wang details her story of moving from China to Saipan to work as a seamstress. She chronicles the poor conditions and what life was like for her in a new country, far away from home.
We all live different lives.
From the girl living two blocks away to someone on the other side of the world, the lives we lead are so different from one another that it often makes
for a compelling tale.
Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin is the diary of a Chinese garment factory worker living in Saipan. Chun Yu Wang goes there to make money for her family, leaving behind a husband she doesn’t love and a 2-year-old child.
The book was translated from Mandarin to English, so I am sure there were a number of things that could have been lost in translation, but one of my favorite parts were all the Chinese idioms Wang revealed throughout the book.
Her story is intriguing as she explains living in a barracks filled with bugs and rats, sharing a room with eight other women, dealing with natural disasters such as a tsunami and a typhoon. If she got out of work late, she would have to wait on line to take a shower that could sometimes take hours to filter through.
The garment factory wasn’t what she expected with corruption and favoritism rampant no matter where she worked, and the bosses trying to do everything to prevent women from going to the hospital when they were ill. However, she dealt with it because she needed the money, but it seemed she also needed to feel as though she had control of her life. While living in China she married for the wrong reasons and felt she couldn’t leave. But in Saipan, she could be whomever she wanted.
Despite being called a diary, it seemed as though her feelings were still just on the surface, which is what prevented me from giving this book five stars. This didn’t read as a diary one would write for themselves with depth of feelings that you couldn’t tell others, but as though she knew someone would eventually read it, and she didn’t want to reveal the full scope of her emotions including her failures in and outside of the factory.
It is still well worth the read with a glimpse into another world, another life.
The book was translated from Mandarin to English by an editor Walt F.J. Goodridge.
No major issues.
Rating: **** Four Stars