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Descripción de editorial
Every year over 200 million peasants flock to China’s urban centers, providing a profusion of cheap labor that helps fuel the country’s staggering economic growth. Award-winning journalist Michelle Dammon Loyalka follows the trials and triumphs of eight such migrants—including a vegetable vendor, an itinerant knife sharpener, a free-spirited recycler, and a cash-strapped mother—offering an inside look at the pain, self-sacrifice, and uncertainty underlying China’s dramatic national transformation. At the heart of the book lies each person’s ability to "eat bitterness"—a term that roughly means to endure hardships, overcome difficulties, and forge ahead. These stories illustrate why China continues to advance, even as the rest of the world remains embroiled in financial turmoil. At the same time, Eating Bitterness demonstrates how dealing with the issues facing this class of people constitutes China’s most pressing domestic challenge.
Each year, as many as 150 million poorly educated migrant workers flock to China s big cities, where they chiku ( eat bitterness ), working difficult, low-paying jobs that nevertheless offer better options than rural farming. In her first book, journalist Loyalka offers a handful of lucid, moving portraits of workers toiling in the western city of Xian: the amiable junk recycler Zhang Erhua who drifts from job to job across China; the countryside nanny to a rich urban family s spoiled toddler; and the enterprising hostel operator whose husband lacks her drive and ambition are all portrayed with nuance and dignity. Most migrants aim to save almost 100% of their meager incomes, but the internal residency permit bureaucracy denies them full benefits in cities, tying them to rural land allotments that offer the prospect of subsistence farming if all else fails. It s one of many factors that mean migrants are neither able to completely abandon their rural lifestyles nor... fully join the urban ranks. While Loyalka s writing sometimes sags and a few key context points are repeated without truly conveying how urbanites are passing migrants by, this is a thorough and insightful examination of the gritty, arduous side of the Chinese economic miracle.