In 1960, the Soviet Union founded a university in Moscow—soon to be called the Patrice Lumumba University—with the aim of educating students from newly independent states, many of whom came from African countries. Now called the People’s Friendship University of Russia, the university has a famous list of alumni including former heads of state of Central American and African countries, among others. But the Soviet Union wasn’t the only socialist place to offer educational opportunities to students in the developing world. Cuba, China, and North Korea also did and it’s the last that forms the subject of Monica Macias’s new memoir, Black Girl From Pyongyang: In Search of My Identity.

In 2010, Ping An took over Shenzhen Development Bank, ending an experiment that had never been tried before, and not been tried since: a foreign company owning and managing a Chinese bank. Newbridge Capital, a private equity firm, shocked the financial world when it agreed to take over the bank five years earlier—and successfully made it a pioneer.

We are often told that the trend toward globalization is unstoppable, but then some event occurs—whether it is the war in Ukraine or Brexit—that reminds us of the power of nationalism; the emotional attachment that citizens have to their land and people. That power, that emotional attachment, jumps off every page of The War Diary of Asha-san, written by a young Indian nationalist in the midst of the Second World War. 

At this point it is almost a truism that travel memoirs are more about the author’s internal journey than the physical one. “It is the journey, not the destination,” we are frequently told. Never was this point more clearly made than in The White Mosque by Sofia Samatar. Billed somewhat humbly as merely a “Silk Road memoir”, the author provides a personal account of her trip following the passage of a group of Mennonites who relocated from Czarist Russia to Central Asia in the late 19th century.

Food journalist Angela Hui grew up in rural Wales, as daughter to the owners of the Lucky Star Chinese takeaway. Angela grew up behind the counter, helping take orders and serve customers, while also trying to find her place in this small Welsh town. In her new memoir, Takeaway: Stories from a Childhood behind the Counter, she writes about the surprisingly central role the takeaway plays in rural Britain.