Leftover in China: The Women Shaping the World’s Next Superpower by Roseann Lake [in Library Journal]
With a superb blend of historical, cultural, socioeconomic reportage, and plenty of engaging real-life stories, The Economist’s Cuba correspondent Roseann Lake alchemizes her five years in Beijing into a lively first book about the fate and future of China’s accomplished, independent, powerful – and unmarried – women.
Over the last three decades, China has exploded into “an urbanized, globalized, economic superpower.” Privileged by education and opportunity, Chinese women “are entering the white-collar workforce in numbers that rival and surpass those of men” and choosing to delay, even forgo, marriage. Growth and progress haven’t bypassed tradition, however, ensuring “marriage retains the equivalent social force of a steamroller,” making single women over 25 sheng nü, literally “leftover women.”
Eschewing permanent commitment, urban women today take lovers, become mistresses, and consider international partners. “Leftovers” aren’t unique to China, Lake adds, as she examines Japanese, Korean, and Singaporean equivalents as well.
Verdict: Disappointingly, Lake’s enlightening achievement suffers in the audio format with narrator Janet Song, who distractedly sounds as if she’s too often about to burst into tears. For improved literary absorption, choose the page.