Tianjin has always seemed to play second fiddle to the more prominent Beijing. By the same token, during the late-Qing and Republican periods, Shanghai has been held up as China’s most cosmopolitan city, attracting people from around the world. Elizabeth LaCouture, in her new book, Dwelling in the World: Family, House, and Home in Tianjin, China, 1860-1960, shows that Tianjin became more prosperous than Beijing after the Nationalist government left the north for Nanjing and that it was more of an international city than Shanghai.

Q & A: Voices from Queer Asian North America, Martin F Manalansan IV (ed), Alice Y Hom (ed), Kale Bantigue Fajardo (ed), David L Eng (preface)
Q & A: Voices from Queer Asian North America, Martin F Manalansan IV (ed), Alice Y Hom (ed), Kale Bantigue Fajardo (ed), David L Eng (preface) (Temple University Press, August 2020)

First published in 1998, Q & A: Queer in Asian America, edited by David L Eng and Alice Y Hom, became a canonical work in Asian American studies and queer studies. This new edition of Q & A is neither a sequel nor an update, but an entirely new work borne out of the progressive political and cultural advances of the queer experiences of Asian North American communities.

Passing for Perfect: College Impostors and Other Model Minorities, erin Khuê Ninh (Temple University Press, 2021)
Passing for Perfect: College Impostors and Other Model Minorities, erin Khuê Ninh (Temple University Press, 2021)

In her engaging study, Passing for Perfect, erin Khuê Ninh considers the factors that drove college imposters such as Azia Kim—who pretended to be a Stanford freshman—and Jennifer Pan—who hired a hitman to kill her parents before they found out she had never received her high school diploma—to extreme lengths to appear successful. Why would someone make such an illogical choice? And how do they stage these lies so convincingly, and for so long?

Liz PY Chee vividly remembers the first time she visited a bear farm. It was 2009, and Chee, who was working for a Singapore-based animal welfare group, flew to Laos to tour a Chinese-owned facility. The animals Chee saw “were hardly recognizable as bears,” she later wrote, “because they had rubbed most of their fur off against the bars of the cages and had grown very long toenails through disuse of their feet.”

China’s increasingly dominant position in global economic and political affairs has so far not been matched by similar progress in international use of either the Chinese currency or language. This can at times seem curious to some of those charting China’s rise. Jeffrey Gil of Adelaide’s Flinders University offers The Rise of Chinese as a Global Language as an explanation of how at least the latter might finally come about.

They gaze at you, the fashionably-attired youths of Esfahan, from a distance of 300 years. Swaying like cypress trees, their tresses floating in the air like clouds, their faces surrounded by peach fuzz, they smile like the Gioconda and with more mystery. Who are these young men and what do they say to the viewers? After the lucidity of the great 16th-century Persian and Mughal painters like Behzad and Sultan Mohammad, who painted kingly battles and hunts, the 17th century brings us the works of Reza Abbasi and Mohammad Qasem, and their ambivalent but sexually-charged portraits of young men and occasionally young women.