Chapter One: Rotten Girls


For Lily, a professional 32-year-old woman living in Shanghai, navigating the divide between the expectations of her family deep in rural China and her own desires for her future has never been easy. As an unmarried woman who long ago left her hometown, she faces mounting pressure from her family and community to find a partner and settle down. On this week’s episode of Strangers in China, Lily shares her struggles with rootlessness and a search for belonging, and the revelations she has had about the world beyond China that have helped shape who she is today — though often in direct opposition to traditional cultural norms.


The creators of Strangers in China would like to thank Ryan Thorpe and the Shanghai Writers Workshop and Anthony Tao of SupChina.

This episode and this series is dedicated to Clay’s grandmother Joyce, who passed away as this podcast was being conceived.

Music credits:

Analytical Skeletons,” “What Are You Doing Tomorrow?,” “Shhia Bhat,” “Advil’s Lament,” and “Gifts” by csus; Terri Skillz; “Sorrow” by Sappheiros; “I Like You” by Dovi; “MARIGOLD” by Evan Schaeffer Music Studios.

Works consulted:

Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China, by Leta Hong Fincher