Jillian Kumagai

Jillian Kumagai is a former editorial fellow at The Atlantic.
  • Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi / AP

    A Birthday in Zimbabwe and Goats in New Zealand: The Week in Global-Affairs Writing

    The highlights from seven days of reading about the world

  • Paulo Whitaker / Reuters

    Mosquitoes and Migration: The Week in Global-Affairs Writing

    The highlights from seven days of reading about the world

  • Reuters

    Dominican Baseball and Black-Market Lapel Pins: The Week in Global-Affairs Writing

    The highlights from seven days of reading about the world

  • Brian Harries / Flickr

    Football in France and Breakfast in Rwanda: The Week in Global-Affairs Writing

    The highlights from seven days of reading about the world

  • Yannis Behrakis / Reuters

    Solitaire and Headscarves: The Week in Global-Affairs Writing

    The highlights from seven days of reading about the world

  • Amr Nabil / AP

    Tahrir Square and England’s Pompeii: The Week in Global-Affairs Writing

    The highlights from seven days of reading about the world

  • Yuya Shino / Reuters

    Japan Schools the East Coast on Dealing With Snow

    Heated roads and zero flight cancellations: Welcome to “snow country.”

  • Jorge Silva / Reuters

    A ‘Jungle Bro Session’ and Statue-Toppling: The Week in Global-Affairs Writing

    The highlights from seven days of reading about the world

  • Who Will Save ‘God Save the Queen’?

    Back in September, when I interviewed Alex Marshall, the author of a world tour of national anthems called Republic or Death!, he told me the following about “God Save the Queen,” the national anthem of the United Kingdom (and, by default, the anthem of England, which doesn’t have an official one):

    There’s almost too many reasons not to like “God Save the Queen.” … When you hear it, you can’t get excited about it. And, the other big issue: It just has absolutely nothing about Britain today. All it says is, “We have a monarch, and we’d really like her to reign for a long time.” … [People] get far more excited singing songs with titles like “Land of Hope and Glory.” Or there’s one called “Jerusalem,” which is about “England’s green and pleasant land.” And those songs actually speak to the country and people’s sense of hope. Those mean so much more. If the U.K. had a different anthem I might get more excited about it.

    The U.K. may not get a different anthem anytime soon, but there’s hope for England yet. (Scotland and Wales have their own anthems, Northern Ireland does not.) Yesterday, a bill to decide the future of an English anthem was introduced in Parliament and will come up for debate in March.

  • Sukree Sukplang / Reuters

    Oedipal Complexes and Coca-Cola: The Week in Global-Affairs Writing

    The highlights from seven days of reading about the world

  • Track of the Day: 'White Wine in the Sun'

    “White Wine in the Sun” isn’t a probable title for a Christmas song, but it is if you’re Australian, like the comedian/musician Tim Minchin. (Among other things, he wrote the music and lyrics for the Broadway musical Matilda.)

    This song will sneak up on you—it usually manages to get me in tears in the last minute or so. For most of it, Minchin ruminates on his mixed feelings around the holidays: He’s “hardly religious,” but he likes the music. He has “all the usual objections to consumerism,” he doesn’t want big presents. “It’s sentimental, I know, but I just really like it.”

  • Simon Zo / Reuters

    Caterpillar Fungus and John Kerry: The Week in Global-Affairs Writing

    The highlights from seven days of reading about the world

  • Gift Ideas for a Wonder Woman Friend

    Age: 30

    Place: Ohio

    Relationship: friend

    From the gift-giver:

    She is really into home improvement/interior decorating—every time I visit, she and her husband have changed another room in their house, and it always looks amazing and they do it themselves (except the kitchen). She enjoys science fiction and fantasy books (Orson Scott Card and George R.R. Martin are a couple favorite authors I know of), but has also been known to read young adult fiction like Hunger Games, etc., when she needs something light. She is currently working on her dissertation for a PhD in electrical engineering. She has a two-year-old daughter, and is expecting twin boys, so her life is about to change dramatically.

    Any gift they’ve loved?

    I got her flannel pajama pants one year and she said loved them so much that I ended up getting her another pair a few years later. This feels pathetic to me because she's such a good gift-giver. When I learned I'd be moving across the country for my husband's job, she got me three handmade luggage tags, each with a map centered on a different place: my hometown, my husband's hometown, and the new town we'd be calling home together. Flannel PJs seem rather silly in comparison, but she said she loved them. I clearly could use some help.

    We recommend: Welcome to Night Vale: a Novel audiobook ($22.72 for a CD, $27.99 for download) and bluetooth headphones ($34.99)

    Since your friend’s life is changing dramatically, immersion in something even more dramatic by comparison could actually be grounding. (It reminds one that stranger things can happen.) The podcast “Welcome to Night Vale” rests comfortably in sci-fi, fantasy, and YA fiction, and documents the weird citizens of a weirder town in a desert somewhere in the southwestern United States. It’s frightening, witty, surprising, and energetic, and yet—you could probably meditate to it. (This owes much to the deep, dulcet tones of narrator Cecil Baldwin, but also, one of the story’s themes is that there are lovely, soothing things to be found in a chaotic future. A sample quote: “While the future is fast coming for you, it always flinches first, and settles in as the gentle present.”) Since she’ll soon have three small children on her hands, get her a nice pair of comfortable Bluetooth headphones—no cord for the babies to grab—and the audiobook for the just-released novelization of the podcast. Hopefully she’ll feel right at home in Night Vale.

    Other ideas:

    Got another suggestion for this recipient? Send your ideas to hello@theatlantic.com.

  • Eugene Tanner / AP

    Emojis and ‘Narco-terror’: The Week in Global-Affairs Writing

    The highlights from seven days of reading about the world

  • Emaki Wacky / Wikimedia

    Japan’s Enduring Spookiness

    America has Japan beat on Halloween. But Japan has the world beat on monsters.

  • Would You Take a Magic Pill to Cure Your Stutter?

    At the end of third grade, my class gathered to meet our fourth-grade teacher. We were supposed to go around the room and say our names in introduction. When it was my turn, instead of saying my name, I spelled it out: “J-I-L-L-I-A-N.” Someone else picked up after me and said it: “Jillian.” Following that ordeal, I strategically took bathroom breaks in order to miss my turn when we went around the room to read aloud.

    My stutter continued to follow me around my entire life. My favorite restaurant dish growing up was fish and chips, but I rarely ordered it myself because I couldn’t say it. My college-admissions essay was about stuttering. The college I went to begins with “B” and I loved it, but I don’t like to say its name. Nor do I like to say “boyfriend,” nor mine’s last name, which starts with “G.” My bad letters remain: B and G, along with D. When J became easier, I was grateful, but sometimes my heart still pounds when I have to introduce myself in a group.

    Emma Alpern, a writer and stutterer herself, reported for us last week on the National Stuttering Association’s annual conference. When she interviewed the association’s chairman of the board, Kenny Koroll, he said, “There’s always that question. If you had a magic pill [that could cure a stutter], would you take it? And for me, the answer is no.”

    Stutterers share a debate that splinters other communities whose members are disabled in some way.

  • Pilar Olivares / Reuters

    What Makes a Great National Anthem?

    A writer tours the world through song and explains why he has always hated “God Save the Queen.”

  • Coco McCabe / Oxfam America

    When Reality TV Involves Vaccinating a Goat and Pulling Weeds

    Female Food Heroes approximates real life in rural Tanzania.