Magdaragat is Filipino for “seafarer” or “mariner.” Its dictionary meaning is straightforward enough, and even those with only cursory knowledge of the lands colonially known as “the Philippines” will understand why one would choose that word as the title for an anthology of Filipino diasporic writing. After all, the Philippines is an archipelago of approximately 7,000 islands in the South Pacific; the sea, as both literal and metaphorical entity, has dominated Filipino life—economically, politically, and culturally—since time immemorial.

Maaria Sayed is an Indian filmmaker whose experience ranges from London and Italy to South Asia and Korea. Her debut novel, From Pashas to Pokemon, is a delightful coming of age story largely set in a Muslim neighborhood of Mumbai and, as the title implies, traverses both old and new. The story follows a young woman named Aisha from her childhood on Muhammad Ali Road to her student years in the UK and back in Mumbai in her mid-twenties. 

There is much about the way international relations is framed—from the so-called rules-based order to the nation-state itself—that has its origins in the Western history, philosophy and experience. It stands to reason that the traditional view might not map very well onto two non-Western countries an order of magnitude larger than almost any other in the original dataset. In his new book Civilization-States of China and India, Ravi Dutt Bajpai posits that India and China are something other than “nation states”.

Romantic Nationalism in India: Cultivation of Culture and the Global Circulation of Ideas, Bob van der Linden (Brill, May 2024)
Romantic Nationalism in India: Cultivation of Culture and the Global Circulation of Ideas, Bob van der Linden (Brill, May 2024)

Through the concept of “Romantic nationalism”, this interdisciplinary global historical study investigates cultural initiatives in (British) India that aimed at establishing the nation as a moral community and which preceded or accompanied state-oriented political nationalism. Drawing on a vast array of sources, it discusses important Romantic nationalist traits, such as the relationship between language and identity, historicism, artistic revivalism and hero worship.

On the evening streets of Tokyo, in the heart of the Shinjuku district, a white sedan “reeking of blood and cigarettes” hosts Shindo, the battered and bruised protagonist of The Night of Baba Yaga. These elements—inconspicuous cars, bloody seats, violent people—make up the bulk of Akira Otani’s novel. Beyond the gore lies a queer love story, forming the emotional heart of the book, and the only joy to be found in pages of blood and guts.

In 1971, the New York Times called the Taiwanese-Chinese chef, Fu Pei-Mei, the “the Julia Child of Chinese cooking.” But, as Michelle T King notes in her book Chop Fry Watch Learn: Fu Pei-Mei and the Making of Modern Chinese Food, the inverse—that Julia Child was the Fu Pei-Mei of French cuisine—might be more appropriate.

Alexander Grigorenko’s previous book Mebet, set among the Nenets people of the Siberian taiga, was such an unique literary experience that one could be forgiven for opening Ilget, the next book in the trilogy (a rather loose trilogy, it would appear), with some trepidation, anxious that it repeat or at least not surprise in same measure. But if anything, Ilget is better; although-steeped in mythology and the supernatural, as the people it writes about were and are, it feels more rooted in reality and rather than being fully immersed in magic-realism, only dips its toes in it.