Sapphire Promise: Based on a true story of loyalty, trust, and unfailing love, Sally Brandle (May 2021)
Sapphire Promise: Based on a true story of loyalty, trust, and unfailing love, Sally Brandle (May 2021)

Loyalty to family. Trusting instincts. The will to survive. These virtues are deeply embedded in a mature Dutch teenager, Annika Wolter. Her attributes prove useful as she navigates typical coming-of-age insecurities and a blossoming romance with a handsome lieutenant in 1939 Batavia, Java.

Our Home in Myanmar: Four years in Yangon, Jessica Mudditt (March 2021)
Our Home in Myanmar: Four years in Yangon, Jessica Mudditt (March 2021)

Myanmar—shrouded in mystery, misunderstood and isolated for half a century. After a whirlwind romance in Bangladesh, Australian journalist Jessica Mudditt and her Bangladeshi husband Sherpa arrive in Yangon in 2012—just as the military junta is beginning to relax its ironclad grip on power.

The Values in Numbers: Reading Japanese Literature in a Global Information Age, Hoyt Long (Columbia University Press, June 2021)
The Values in Numbers: Reading Japanese Literature in a Global Information Age, Hoyt Long (Columbia University Press, June 2021)

Ideas about how to study and understand cultural history—particularly literature—are rapidly changing as new digital archives and tools for searching them become available. This is not the first information age, however, to challenge ideas about how and why we value literature and the role numbers might play in this process. The Values in Numbers tells the longer history of this evolving global conversation from the perspective of Japan and maps its potential futures for the study of Japanese literature and world literature more broadly.

Sindh, the “homeland” of the eponymous ethnic group, is in what is now Pakistan. In India, Sindhis often call themselves the Jews of India because they do not have a territory of their own, especially in a nation that is internally organized around linguistic ethnicities. Their request for things that other linguistic communities enjoy, such as having a government-owned Sindhi language channel, largely go ignored. Time and again, they are questioned for their loyalty: sometimes for naming their local businesses after Karachi, and sometimes for the removal of the word “Sindh/Sindhu” from India’s national anthem. But it’s not that a defined territory would guarantee political success for the Sindhis in Sindh are not doing very well either, politically, economically, and culturally. A look at Asma Faiz’s book In Search of Lost Glory: Sindhi Nationalism in Pakistan confirms this by showing that Sindhis in Sindh have also been struggling to assert their identity.

Academic books, thank goodness, are getting better and better these days, as professors seem to have realized that readability piques interest far more than pretentiously dense, jargon-ridden prose appealing mostly to purveyors of the same product, and which dismay students who have to read it. Granted, not every academic can write decently—anyone who has struggled through Hegel’s Philosophy of Right can attest to that—but some of them don’t even try to communicate outside their learned boxes, scribbling happily away for an audience of five.

China and the Cholera Pandemic Restructuring Society under Mao, Xiaoping Fang (University of Pittsburgh Press, April 2021)
China and the Cholera Pandemic: Restructuring Society under Mao, Xiaoping Fang (University of Pittsburgh Press, April 2021)

Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward campaign organized millions of Chinese peasants into communes in a misguided attempt to rapidly collectivize agriculture with disastrous effects. Catastrophic famine lingered as the global cholera pandemic of the early 1960s spread rampantly through the infected waters of southeastern coastal China. Confronted with a political crisis and the seventh global cholera pandemic in recorded history, the communist government committed to social restructuring in order to affirm its legitimacy and prevent transmission of the disease.

Chinese Film Classics, 1922–1949, Christopher Rea (Columbia University Press, June 2021)
Chinese Film Classics, 1922–1949, Christopher Rea (Columbia University Press, June 2021)

Chinese Film Classics, 1922–1949 is an essential guide to the first golden age of Chinese cinema. Offering detailed introductions to fourteen films, this study highlights the creative achievements of Chinese filmmakers in the decades leading up to 1949, when the Communists won the civil war and began nationalizing cultural industries.