Contributor Michelle Dammon Loyalka’s book Eating Bitterness is online at the UC Press website. Here’s the description:
Every year well over 150 million peasants flock to China’s urban centers, providing a profusion of cheap labor that helps fuel the country’s staggering economic growth. Though they play a pivotal role in building the New China, they face a host of social and economic barriers that keep them largely on the outskirts of society, rarely able to enjoy the fruits of their labors. Award-winning journalist Michelle 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 means roughly to endure hardships, overcome difficulties, and forge ahead. These stories illustrate why China continues to advance, even as rest of the world remains embroiled in financial turmoil. At the same time, with a full 300 million peasants expected to migrate to the nation’s cities within the next 20 years, Eating Bitterness demonstrates how dealing with the issues facing this class of people constitutes China’s most pressing domestic challenge.