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Shirley Lim

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Shirley Lim

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Shirley Geok-lin Lim (born 1944) was born in Malacca Malaysia. She is an American writer of poetry, fiction, and criticism. Her first collection of poems, Crossing The Peninsula, published in 1980, won her the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, a first both for an Asian and for a woman. Among several other awards that she has received, her memoir, Among the White Moon Faces, received the 1997 American Book Award.


Born in Melaka, Malaysia into a life of poverty, deprivation, parental violence, and abandonment in a culture that, at that time, rarely recognized girls as individuals, Lim had a pretty unhappy childhood. Reading was a huge solace, retreat, and escape for her. Scorned by teachers for her love of English over her "native" tongue, she was looked down upon for her pursuit of English literature. Her first poem was published in the Malacca Times when she was ten. By the age of eleven, she knew that she wanted to be a poet.

Lim had her early education at Infant Jesus Convent under the then British colonial education system. She won a federal scholarship to the University of Malaya, where she earned a B.A. first class honours degree in English. In 1969, at the age of twenty-four, she entered graduate school at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts under a Fulbright scholarship, and received a Ph.D. in English and American Literature in 1973.

Lim is married to [1]


Lim is a professor in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has also taught internationally at the National University of Singapore, the National Institute Education of Nanyang Technological University, and was the Chair Professor at the University of Hong Kong where she also taught poetry and creative writing. She has authored several books of poems, short stories, and criticism, and serves as editor and co-editor of numerous scholarly works. Lim is a cross-genre writer, although she identifies herself as a poet. Her research interests include:

Lim has received numerous literary awards, among which are:

  • "Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer Award" in 1996;
  • American Book Award which she won twice, once with her co-edited anthology, The Forbidden Stitch: An Asian American Women's Anthology (1989), and the second time, with her memoir, Among the White Moon Faces (1997); and
  • Asiaweek Short Story award for "Mr. Tang's Uncles" (Feminist Press, 1997).

An extract from "The Town Where Time Stands Still" by Shirley Geok-lin Lim has been included in the Journeys Stimulus Booklet as part of the compulsory HSC English course, studied by all students in their final year of secondary schooling in New South Wales, Australia.

Books and articles

  • Memoir: "Among the White Moon Faces: An Asian American Memoir of Homelands" (1996) (Chinese translation, 2001)
  • Fiction:
    • "Joss and Gold" (Feminist Press and Times Books International, 2001)
    • Sister Swing[2] (Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2006)
  • Books of Poetry and Short Stories:
    • "Crossing the Peninsula and Other Poems" (1980)
    • "Another Country" (1982)
    • "Life's Mysteries" (1985)
    • "No Man's Grove and Other Poems" (1985)
    • "Modern Secrets: New and Selected Poems" (1989)
    • "Monsoon History" (1994)
    • "Two Dreams: New and Selected Stories" (1997)
    • "What the Fortune Teller Didn't Say" (1998)
  • Some publications edited or co-edited:
    • "The Forbidden Stitch" (1989)
    • "Approaches to Teaching Kingston's The Woman Warrior" (1991)
    • "One World of Literature" (1992)
    • "Transnational Asia Pacific: Gender, Culture, and the Public Sphere" (1999)
    • "Writing Out of Turn" (Profession, 1999)
    • "Before Its Time, Of Its Time: The Transnational Female Bildungsroman and Kartini's Letters of A Javanese Princess" (Journal of Asian Pacific Communication 9(1&2), 1999)
    • "Asian American Literature: Leavening the Mosaic", in "Contemporary U. S. Literature: Multicultural Perspectives" (U.S. Society & Values, Electronic Journals of the U.S. Department of State (5)1, 2000)
    • "Power, Race, and Gender in Academe: Strangers in the Tower?" (MLA Press, 2000)
    • "Tilting the Continent: Southeast Asian American Writing" (2000)
    • "English-Language Creative Writing in Hong Kong: Colonial Stereotype and Process," in Pedagogy 1(1) (Duke U P, Winter 2000)
    • "The Center Can(not) Hold: U.S. Women's Studies and Global Feminism" (American Studies International 38(3), October 2000)
    • "The Futures for Hong Kong English", co-authored with Kingsley Bolton (World Englishes 19(3) Special Issue, Hong Kong English: Autonomy and Creativity, November 2000)
    • "Transnational Americans: Asian Pacific American Literature of Anamnesia" (Journal of American Studies 32(2), Winter 2000)
    • "Global Asia as Post-Legitimation: A Response to Ambroise Kom's 'Knowledge and Legitimation'". Mots Pluriels. (June, 2000)
    • "Old Paradigms, New Differences: Comparative American Studies", in Cultural Encounters (Stauffenburg Verlag, Spring 2000)
    • "Complications of Feminist and Ethnic Literary Theories in Asian American Literature", in "Challenging Boundaries: Gender and Periodization" (University of Georgia P, 2000)
    • Foreword to "Asian American Autobiographers: A Bio-bibliographical Critical Sourcebook" (Greenwood Press, 2001)
    • "The Columbia Companion to the 20th Century American Short Story". David Wong Louie. (Columbia U P, 2001)

See also

  • Article applying Lim's reading of the "pot luck" concept to Singapore's multiculturalism - "Pot luck attractive metaphor for multicultural Singapore" by Koh Buck Song, The Straits Times 8 August 1994.

External links

  • UCSB Department of English

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