An Dun speaks on the urban dream

By Lauren Ratcliffe
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, June 27, 2011
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When An Dun, the pen name of Zhang Yingjie, was a little girl, she dreamed of combining her love of talking to people with her passion for reading. Now after 16 years working for the Beijing Youth Daily and authoring three books, An Dun says she's living out her dream.

An Dun, author of 'The Chinese Dream Series,'smiles as her stories are translated to the crowd gathering at the launch of her third book. The book chronicles the dreams of migrant workers in urban areas of China.

An Dun, author of "The Chinese Dream Series,"smiles as her stories are translated to the crowd gathering at the launch of her third book. The book chronicles the dreams of migrant workers in urban areas of China.

On Wednesday June 22, a room full of expatriates and Chinese nationals gathered to hear stories from her latest book, Urban TraReal Life Stories of Migrant Workers and nsplants, at a launch event at the Bookworm bookstore in Beijing's Sanlitun district.

At the event, An Dun discussed her new book's account of a young woman who became a migrant worker in Beijing after her mother died. The woman used the money she earned to help her younger siblings stay in school.

"I think it is a very gracious thing for her to [become a migrant worker], because from now on she will live for others and not for herself," An Dun told the audience.

One of the book's subjects, Jiang Maotang of Wuxiang, Shanxi Province, accompanied An Dun at Wednesday's launch. With force behind every word, he told the audience his story as a principal of a school for migrant children, including how his schools were repeatedly closed as the city decided to build more roads.

"My biggest hope for my students is that they would have equal rights to education just like those from urban areas," Jiang said.

When asked what surprises her most about the stories she hears, An Dun said every interview has its own surprises.

"I've been a reporter for 16 years and I still love this job," An Dun said. "For each interview I will relive the life that the character has lived."

An Dun's first two books discussed the aspirations of China's youth and common people. She said the stories of average Chinese people intrigued her more than the stories of the famous because commoners have stories that often go untold. An Dun said she chose migrant workers as the subject for her third book because of the country's current large scale migration of people from rural to urban areas.

Real Life Stories of Migrant Workers is the third publication in An Dun's "Chinese Dream" series. It is published by New World Press and hits bookstores on July 1. Her book will be available for purchase at the Bookworm, Beijing Books Building, Foreign Language Bookstore,,, New World Press and the China Cultural Center. The book sells for 48 yuan.

With her fourth book of the "Chinese Dream" series – the stories of Chinese artists – already in the works, An Dun said she's finding the common dream among all Chinese people.

According to An Dun, the Chinese dream is "living the good life" – "liking what you eat, where you are staying and what you are wearing. You can do whatever you want to do."

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