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.

Teens may grimace at the thought of taking SATs, but they have it easy compared with the counterparts in China where millions of children are trained from a young age to succeed in school, all for the one-day gaokao, or university admissions examination. In her new young adult novel, Like Spilled Water—the title of which refers to the notion that daughters are not as valued as sons because they will leave their parents’ home after they marry—Jennie Liu tackles the anxiety and other ramifications centered around this exam. 

Born in Hong Kong and raised in Portland, Marilyn Chin is one of the most celebrated contemporary Chinese-American poets. Winner of the 2020 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, her collections include A Portrait of the Self as Nation (2018), Hard Love Province (2014), Rhapsody in Plain Yellow (2002), Dwarf Bamboo (1987) and The Phoenix Gone, The Terrace Empty (1994, 2009) alongside a novel, Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen (2009). Also a translator, she has translated poems by the modern Chinese poet Ai Qing and co-translated poems by the Japanese poet Gozo Yoshimasu.

What do you do with a gang of monks who have been condemned to death for immorality? If you are King Rama II of Siam (1809-24), you commute their sentences to hard labor, which consists of making them cut grass for your elephants every day. This is one example of the sometimes quirky humanity of the Chakri Dynasty, which, as royal houses go, is a relative newcomer, having been founded only in 1784.

The morning after Notre-Dame Cathedral caught fire last year, Diana Darke remarked on Twitter and then on her blog that much of what is considered iconically European about the cathedral—the twin towers, the gothic arches—is Middle Eastern in origin. This created something of a stir and in the provocatively-entitled Stealing from the Saracens, Darke sets out to prove it.