In Russia’s far east, meeting a person alone in the wilderness is usually a bad thing. Some recluses in this remote region might be criminals of one kind or another: those hiding from law enforcement or those hiding from other criminals. But when conservationist Jonathan C Slaght ran into a man with “a crazy look in his eyes” and one missing finger living alone in an abandoned World War II hydroelectric station, rather than make a quick exit, he took the hermit up on his offer to spend the night.

Tragedy finds its ideal form when a good character is partially responsible for her own downfall, which should unfold with the slow and inexorable force of a moral sentencing. Or so said Aristotle. Likewise, an irresistible blend of pity, horror, and satisfaction emerges through each of Ha Seong-nan’s short stories in this new collection. Even if not all of Ha’s characters are “good”, they still prove to be pitifully wretched creatures.

Arrivals & Departures: Journeys in Poems, Reena Kapoor (August 2020)
Arrivals & Departures: Journeys in Poems, Reena Kapoor (August 2020)

Arrivals & Departures is Reena Kapoor’s debut poetry collection. This anthology takes readers on a journey through a multitude of places, time periods, and emotions, including the nostalgia of one’s homeland, the suffering and resilience of women who experienced India and Pakistan’s 1947 Partition, parenthood, and life’s other simple pleasure. Kapoor draws readers into new worlds with her words and allows them to find themselves within.

Pin Ups, Yi Shun Lai (Homebound Publications, September 2020)
Pin Ups, Yi Shun Lai (Homebound Publications, September 2020)

Pin Ups is a memoir about Yi Shun Lai’s long, ragged relationship with outdoor sports. Along the way, she discovers what it means to find a place for herself in the great outdoors—and what the act of carving out a place of her own taught her about tokenism, women’s leadership, and representation in a white world.

Quagmire in Civil War, by Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl (Cambridge University press, February 2020)
Quagmire in Civil War, by Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl (Cambridge University Press, February 2020)

Our understanding of civil war is shot through with the spectre of quagmire, a situation that traps belligerents, compounding and entrenching war’s dangers. Despite the subject’s importance, its causes are obscure. A pervasive “folk” notion that quagmire is intrinsic to certain countries or wars has foreclosed inquiry, and scholarship has failed to identify quagmire as an object of study in its own right.