Pale skin is valued in Asia: cosmetics to whiten skin such as “White Perfect” and “Fair & Lovely” are widely advertised. To Americans, and Asian-Americans, however, promotion of skin-whitening products appears to be racist and “colorist”, as people of color in the US have suffered from discrimination by the white majority. Whiter is a new anthology of essays by Asian-American women on skin color and “colorism”, edited by Nikki Khanna, a sociologist whose previous work has focused on biracial identity.

More than a decade ago, when my wife and I first published a pocket-sized English translation of the Chinese almanac for the launch of New York’s Museum of Chinese in America, we reached out to a prominent Hong Kong publisher who held the rights. He immediately insisted on meeting us, partly intrigued that such a vernacular publication was worthy of museum interest, but mostly because he was curious about who would willingly pay for his content.

Voices from the Chinese Century: Public Intellectual Debate from Contemporary China, edited by Timothy Cheek, David Ownby, and Joshua A Fogel (Columbia University Press, November 2019)
Voices from the Chinese Century: Public Intellectual Debate from Contemporary China, edited by Timothy Cheek, David Ownby, and Joshua A Fogel (Columbia University Press, November 2019)

China’s increasing prominence on the global stage has caused consternation and controversy among Western thinkers, especially since the financial crisis of 2008. But what do Chinese intellectuals themselves have to say about their country’s newfound influence and power? Voices from the Chinese Century brings together a selection of essays from representative leading thinkers that open a window into public debate in China today on fundamental questions of China and the world—past, present, and future.

Chinese Grammatology: Script Revolution and Literary Modernity, 1916–1958, Yurou Zhong (Columbia University Press, November 2019)
Chinese Grammatology: Script Revolution and Literary Modernity, 1916–1958, Yurou Zhong (Columbia University Press, November 2019)

Chinese Grammatology traces the origins, transmutations, and containment of this script revolution to provide a groundbreaking account of its formative effects on Chinese literature and culture, and lasting implications for the encounter between the alphabetic and nonalphabet worlds.

Globalization usually means manufacturing. But globalization reaches into other realms, even waste disposal as Adam Minter wrote in his debut book, Junkyard Planet. In his new book, Secondhand, he investigates what happens to material goods we donate after we’re done using them and travels throughout North America, Asia, and Africa to explore how different countries reuse discarded items.

Japanese American Millennials: Rethinking Generation, Community, and Diversity, Michael Omi (ed), Dana Y Nakano (ed), and Jeffrey T Yamashita (ed) (Temple University Press, November 2019)
Japanese American Millennials: Rethinking Generation, Community, and Diversity, Michael Omi (ed), Dana Y Nakano (ed), and Jeffrey T Yamashita (ed) (Temple University Press, November 2019)

Whereas most scholarship on Japanese Americans looks at historical case studies or the 1.5 generation assimilating, this pioneering anthology, Japanese American Millennials: Rethinking Generation, Community, and Diversity, captures the experiences, perspectives, and aspirations of Asian Americans born between 1980 and 2000. The editors and contributors present multiple perspectives on who Japanese Americans are, how they think about notions of community and culture, and how they engage and negotiate multiple social identities.