After much of the western world let go of its colonies in the years following World War II, the United States did the opposite in Guam: it not only re-occupied the island, but established a (massive) military base there. The culture in Guam is a melange of the legacy of Spanish colonialism (particularly seen in surnames), indigenous CHamoru (Chamorro) people, and American colonization interrupted by Japanese occupation during WWII. With a total population equivalent to that of a middling US city, it is perhaps not surprising that there has been a dearth of literature from the island. 

Over the course of thirty-seven fragments, an elderly man coming to an understanding of his world tells the “story” of his village: chronicles of a village serves as an indictment of History for what it leaves out. The narrator often offers a curiously romantic view of a pastoral world that is being overtaken by the outside world, and as a celebration/tribute/elegy for his father, mother, and brother. 

Ranjan Adiga’s debut collection Leech and other stories comprises 10 short stories based around the experiences of Nepalis adapting to new worlds, lands and experiences. The majority relate to migration, both internal, with migrants from rural Nepal traveling to try make it in the capital, or abroad, in search of their dream life in America. It is unsurprising that a nation shaped by migration should produce a writer who tackles the subject with such nuance and tenderness. 

Detective fiction in the West is often grouped with crime fiction and thrillers; but in detective fiction, the focus is on a puzzle and the process of solving it. It’s a game with the reader in which a mystery needs to be unraveled before the detective figures it out. In some places, the detective becomes a figure of interest in himself—detective figures have been, traditionally if less so at present, more often than not, men—a complex personality whose story is interesting and deserves an independent treatment of its own. It is a genre that solves problems, finds answers, holds the culprit accountable: all very attractive attributes for those who just like a good story.

In 2015, author Sanya Rushdi was hospitalized after her third psychotic episode and was subsequently diagnosed with schizophrenia. Hospital, first published in 2019 in Bengali and then in an excellent recent English translation by Arunava Sinha, is an attempt to make sense of what had happened to her and the things around her during that period of time. This is not however a straight-up memoir but rather a work of auto-fiction. While most characters might share names and trajectories of their real-life counterparts, it would be wrong to read it as an unvarnished factual account of true events. 

Death is an uncomfortable subject yet in all cultures and societies there are jobs like undertakers and pathologists that deal with it on a daily basis. In the Chinese countryside, funeral cryers are a big part of the way people mourn death. Wenyan Lu’s debut novel, The Funeral Cryer, centers around a middle-aged woman in northeast China who goes into this profession to put food on the table when no one else in her family seems to be able to lift a hand. Lu’s book is a heartwarming story about death, but also life, love and finding hope.