China’s Leftover Women review (1)

Leftover in China: The Women Shaping the World’s Next Superpower by Roseann Lake

With regard to the above-referenced book — a review of which was posted yesterday on MCLC — I would like to draw attention to the fact that the author, Roseann Lake, appears to nowhere acknowledge in print how much her work and her text are indebted to Leta Hong-Fincher, whose 2014 book, Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China, Lake’s work closely parallels. Lake seems to poach upon the latter’s research, thematics, and acumen, while never citing Hong-Fincher as either source or inspiration. Since Hong-Fincher’s 2011 Ms. magazine article on “leftover women,” through to the publication of her book in 2014, Lake has been in contact with Hong-Fincher a number of times; Hong-Fincher even sent Lake an early summary of the book’s argument and research in the form of a paper written in 2012 for a Sociology conference. In addition, Lake has been at numerous of Hong-Fincher’s presentations in Beijing. In short, Lake was well aware of Hong-Fincher’s work and the thematics of Lake’s book are very similar to Hong-Fincher’s. And yet Lake has deliberately presented her work as unique and as uniquely her own.

This is very troubling. At the very least, Lake should acknowledge publicly the prior work upon which her narrative and analysis stand, and Norton, her publisher, should compel her to do so. As of 2/16, Norton has written to Hong-Fincher to acknowledge the problem and apologize. It is unclear what remedy will be pursued.

Rebecca Karl <>
New York University

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *