This book looks into the lives of China's sheng nü, or “leftover women,” the well-educated, high-achieving female professionals who are the backbone of China's economy but the source of public shame due to their unmarried condition.
The book is filled with funny, poignant and infuriating anecdotes about the marriage pressures the 'leftovers' face ... But Leftover in China is more than just a collection of fascinating anecdotes. Lake contextualizes her work with reference to other Asian countries as well as the United States and carefully grounds her narrative historically ... he result is a sympathetic but clear-eyed critique of 'the infinitely textured and complex set of sparring values, obligations, traditions and tensions that define modern China.'
Based on a five-year stint as a television reporter in China, journalist and producer Lake presents an intimate yet wide-ranging examination of this economic and cultural phenomenon, a book that sparkles with personal revelations as well as important social and cultural details.
Lake entertains all these ideas in a confused fashion. What she doesn’t do is give sufficient space to Chinese women to explain their decisions and desires themselves. When that happens, in a fleeting scene halfway through the book, a more intriguing picture emerges. The female founder of a dating website tells her: 'Most of these so-called leftover women have voluntarily chosen their lifestyle.' Lake scarcely grapples with the implication of this statement — how could she? It’s too at odds with her story, which has so firmly cast her subjects as victims and not agents.