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Migrant worker catapulted into overnight fame after penning moving essay

By Kou Jie (People's Daily Online)    15:15, April 26, 2017

Literally overnight, a female migrant worker from Xiangyang, Hubei province has become famous after her autobiographical essay whipped up an online frenzy, with many netizens and media outlets hailing her as a literary genius.

Fan Yusu, a 44-year-old domestic helper working in Beijing, never expected that her writing would produce so many favorable comments from readers and media outlets. In her essay "I’m Fan Yusu," which garnered over 100,000 views on WeChat, Fan described her dreams and life experience as a migrant worker, taking on sensitive topics including domestic violence and China’s unique household registration system.

“My life is a book that is painful to read, while destiny has bound me in a clumsy way,” Fan wrote. The author's matter-of-fact yet thought-provoking words have touched many readers, who describe her work as refreshing and deep.

“The writer’s appeal for the return of primitive human nature as well as a radical reflection on society really touched my soul. She is like an anthropologist who, by observing people from all walks of life in the city, has offered readers a new perspective by which to interpret the world,” An Xiaoye (pseudonym), an art critic at Peking University, told the People’s Daily Online.

An’s opinion is shared by many netizens. Under the hashtag "IAmFanYusu," the article went viral on WeChat, garnering over 1.1 million page views. Many netizens have praised the woman for her persistence in writing as well as her optimistic attitude toward a difficult life.

“As a woman from a small village without much education, Fan never gave up on pursuing literature. She was brave enough to leave her violent husband and raise her two daughters through hard work. I think she is a model for other women,” one netizen wrote.

Fan’s article has also been given extensive coverage in mainstream media outlets. In a commentary released by the People’s Daily on April 25, a writer called for authorities to address the social problems revealed in Fan’s essay, adding that the essay can be recognized not only for its literary value, but also for its role in promoting social justice.

In response to the online frenzy, Fan told the Beijing Youth Daily that she is "not willing to accept interviews, and her income relies on labor, not writing essays.”

“I’m not good at typing, so I have to write everything by hand ... Writing is my spiritual pillar. I have never been preoccupied by anything complicated - for instance, buying a house - so I have less mental burden,” said Fan.

“As humans, [we] should pursue something more than filling up our stomachs, like satisfying our spiritual needs. There are around five publishers contacting me now, but I hardly dare to imagine that my work might be published,” she added.

Fan also stressed that as a “vulnerable individual,” she tries her best to respect others, even if she cannot get the same treatment in return.

Born in a rural family of five children, poverty forced Fan to drop out of middle school. Her marriage left her with two daughters and bitter memories of domestic violence at the hands of her alcoholic husband.

“I cannot change the environment, but I can be my true self and become a model for my kids,” she added.

 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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