Mall Ballads


Shirley Geok-lin Lim steps boldly out of the traditional locus of Poetry and into the mall, a commercial simulation, a forest of commodities where objects are torn from their sources: cups are plastic, light is fluorescent, music is muzak, deer are Disney hallucinations. In Mall Ballads, Lim does what good poets have always done: bear witness to treasure, and report back to us from the other side, making us privy to a state of utterly unprotected astonishment, at "the dumb moment / Before meaning rushes in." It is a pleasure to picture her thunderstruck at the food court, or beside the apparitional skating rink, seeing all of us in the awkward stumbling girl who "cuts through ice, soars, and falls / again and again and again." John Wall Barger, author of Hummingbird, finalist for the 2013 Raymond Souster Award

The Shirley Lim Collection: Passports and Other Live


The short stories of Shirley Geok-lin Lim - born in Malacca, Malaysia and now Professor of English and Women's Studies at the University of California - reflect the complex mosaic of her world. From the rich Peranakan tradition of her childhood to the harsh perplexity of American life in adulthood, her writing bristles with violence, dislocation and psychic dismemberment. This collection brings you Lim's most memorable stories, along with her most recent work-written over four decades-from the tumultuous 1960s all through to our present day.

Walking Backwards: New Poems


Walking Backwards is about making a home when you are a nomad, and adding an American self to the many selves that the world's myriad, bewildering places throw at one body. It is about how travel and restlessness wrench us and teach us about ourselves, how our losses compound our loves, and how endlessly absorbing the idea of home remains, particularly when we keep losing sight of it. Orbiting the globe, this collection narrates encounters in a transnational American's circuit. As much about Hong Kong as the west coast of the United States, it bundles transients and family, nature and city, the still point within and characters everywhere, to produce a fresh, ethnically inflected poetics.

Princess Shawl


Mei Li inherits a shawl from a grand-aunt she doesn't know, which whisks her to historical times and places. Before she turns ten in two weeks, she must rescue the Chinese princess, Li Po, from the barren island where the wicked bomoh has exiled her. Mei Li meets women in Singapore, Cameron Highlands and Malacca who teach her about courage, nurturing, trust and skills such as cooking, nursing, and climbing mountains. With the help of a magic hairpin, of special rouge and of water that can bring you home, she succeeds in uniting the Princess with the brave Sultan Mansur.

Listening to the Singer: New and Selected Malaysian Poems


This volume contains some of the most ingenious and authentic poems by Malaysia's finest poet, Shirley Geok-lin Lim. Written in a rhapsodic or rueful tone, the poems portray a wide spectrum of experiences and deeply felt emotions - of joy, love, loss, longing, outrage and guilt. It is a must for anyone interested in Malaysian literature, in women's writing or in the emotional voyage of a writer born in the small town of Malacca but whose mastery of the "reed" and "homesickness for the far away" have helped her to bridge nations, cultures and continents.

Sister Swing


Sister Swing chronicles the growing up years of three sisters. It follows their transplant from a relatively sheltered life in Malaysia to the raw realities of the United States. It illuminates the complex relationships between the sisters, and gently but firmly explores the morals, values and mindsets of growing up Asian in a Western world.

A Gathering of Poems from Pok Fu Lam. A chapbook


Joss and Gold


Shirley Lim's long-awaited first novel traces the unconventional development of an extended family struggling to find common ground. At the center of this engaging "un-love story" is Li An, a strong-willed Malaysian woman who finds herself attracted to Chester, an American Peace Corps volunteer. On a night of violent riots, Li An and Chester are drawn together, forever changing both their lives. Lim's characters find themselves caught up in the larger tensions between East and West, women and men, freedom and responsibility. With insight and wit, Lim shows us that what we expect may not always be what we get, but all roads lead us, ultimately to our deepest selves.

What the Fortune Teller Didn't Say


Written over the last decade, these poems include memories of the author's early childhood in Malaysia, immigration to America, and travel throughout the world, and affirmations of motherhood and maturity in the New World. From her background as a Malaysian Chinese later assimilated into Western culture, she has emerged with her own voice, combining bittersweet laughter and realistic affirmation. This unique voice establishes her as an important poet.

"Here are the lines of loss--of family, country, self--yet what is lost is found, and these poems probe a woman's many and changing truths in language that will deepen the vision of every reader. "--Alicia Ostriker

Two Dreams: Short Stories


The stories of Shirley Geok-lin Lim reflect the complex mosaic of her world and of her own personal journey as a woman and an Asian American. The setting of these sometimes wryly funny, sometimes heartbreaking stories, shifts from the war-torn, tradition-bound Malaysia of Lim's childhood to the liberating but confusing and often harsh United States of her childhood. Her memory is undiluted by nostalgia, her ear is perfectly tuned to the voices of both her old country and her new, and her eye is sharp to the special dilemmas faced by girls and women. Shirley Lim captures, as few writers have, the poignant and perplexing experience of immigrant women, who, torn between two cultures, must build their own values and their own homelands from within.

Among the White Moon Faces: An Asian American Memoir of Homelands

1996 (Chinese translation, 2001)

"The first time I heard Shakespeare quoted, it was as a joke," writes poet and Asian American scholar Shirley Geok-Lin Lim in the introduction to her American Book Award-winning memoir, Among the White Moon Faces. Before she'd ever read the play, Lim took the word "Romeo"--as spoken by Malaysians--to mean a sort of "male effect," a sexualized, Westernized code word for "the kind of thing men did to women." "This was Shakespeare in my tropics, and romantic love, and the English language: mashed and chewed, then served up in a pattering patois which was our very own. Our very own confusion." In many ways, Among the White Moon Faces is the chronicle of just this sort of confusion: linguistic, cultural, and sexual. The child of a Chinese father and a peranakan, or assimilated Malaysian Chinese mother, Lim grew up with a tangle of names, tongues, and identities: Lim Geok-Lin, to signify her position in her grandfather's lineage; Shirley, after her father's fascination with the American child-star Shirley Temple. As a girl, Lim refuses to speak the Hokkien dialect of her father's Chinese family, prefers the Malay spoken by her mother's relatives, and eventually winds up speaking almost exclusively English. Years later, as a visiting professor in Penang, she finds herself teaching in English, her language of fluency, while an Australian colleague leads his classes in Bahasa Malay and asks her advice in translating American idioms.

These cross-cultural ironies echo throughout Lim's thoughtful, politically astute memoir, which covers ground ranging from the neglect and hunger of her Malaysian childhood, to her Anglophile education, to the loneliness of her first years in America. As a Chinese Malaysian, she faced discrimination not only from the colonial British, but later, after independence, from ethnic Malays as well. Reared in an expatriate culture, Lim was doubly dislocated by immigrating to America. Here, too, Lim encountered prejudice, as an Asian female, as a poet, and as a brown-skinned, British-accented anomaly who fit no one's notion of who she should be. In the end, Lim finds a kind of balance in her perpetual exile, using sisterhood and the solace of writing to create a sense of place--and to counter the pull of ancient ghosts. "Listening, and telling my own stories, I am moving home," she writes. --Mary Park

Life's Mysteries: The Best of Shirley Lim


Monsoon History: Selected Poems


Shirley Geok-lin Lim a uniqueness to her poetry which neither past nor contemporary, Eastern nor Western writers can claim. Professor Lim has also a legitimate claim within the Chinese-American canon. Like Maxine Hong Kingston and Amy Tan, she represents an important voice in breaking the long silence of an ethic group, in articulating concerns of 'place' and 'gender'. Poems selected from Modern Secrets and No Man's Grove with the complete Crossing The Peninsula -- winner of the commonwealth Poetry Prize 1980.

Modern Secrets: New and Selected Poems


Another Country and Other Stories


Crossing the Peninsula and Other Poems