* Forthcoming as a TV series, We, The Laborers
The unseen enablers of urban development, construction workers have become a marginalized community at the very center of modern wealth, sacrificing their bodies in labor that earns them neither respect nor decent compensation. Long-time construction supervisor Lin Ya-Ching makes them the center of his critical yet empathetic gaze in this non-fiction paean to the men and women who build our cities.
The unseen enablers of urban development, construction workers have become a marginalized community at the very center of modern wealth. The buyers, residents, and renters of a building rarely think of the human effort that it represents, but every concrete foundation, plastered wall, and glazed tile was made useful by the hands of a construction worker. Yet the significance of their contribution, made via the sacrifice of their physical body, stands in stark contrast to their economic and social status. Construction workers are paid little and respected even less, while their presence and difficulties have been made invisible to society.
Lin Ya-Ching’s new book, We, The Laborers, aims to change that. Lin draws on years of experience as a construction site supervisor to narrate the lives of the men and women he works with every day. Short, focused narratives foreground different individuals and groups of workers (like the “believers” featured in the excerpt) in order to achieve deeper levels of detail and more thoroughly depict the struggles of those who trade their bodies for their work.