Fan Yusu was for decades one of the faceless millions of migrant workers who fell through the cracks in China’s rapid state-led urbanisation. She left her village in central Hubei province to take odd jobs in Beijing as a domestic helper or cleaner, living in a rented eight-square-metre room without running water, struggling to raise two daughters as a divorced mother.

Fan, 44, decided to write down her life experiences in an autobiographical essay, I am Fan Yusu, which she posted on a social media literary site last Monday. Within 24 hours, it was shared more than 100,000 times and received more than 20,000 comments. Overnight, Fan became China’s most sought-after writer.


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