``A diminutive Demon King ruled over the dormitory.'' The first sentence from Yukio Mishima's ``Martyrdom'' conveys something of this anthology's spirit. In addition to menace, the words bear a knowledge of the transience and fragility of power, for a dormitory is a small dominion, and people eventually have to leave school and enter the real world. Loughery (editor, First Sightings: Stories of American Youth, not reviewed) has cobbled together a collection as dedicated to particularities of time and place as to the universal theme of coming of age, grouping the stories and writers under five geographical headings: South America and the Caribbean; North America; Europe and Russia; Africa and the Middle East; and Asia and the South Pacific. Luckily, the collection is not just diverse: It's also good. Among the better known writers included are Mishima, V.S. Naipaul, Alice Munro, Tatyana Tolstaya, and Nadine Gordimer. Newer, or less celebrated, authors include South Africa's Zoe Wicomb and Malaysia's Shirley Geok-Lin Lim. Nearly all the voices are strong and distinct, resulting in an anthology that, taken as a whole, negotiates themes of universality and difference with unusual intelligence and imagination.