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

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

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by Shirley Geok-lin Lim
     
 

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Shirley Geok-lin Lim’s memoir is a courageously frank and deeply affecting account of a Malaysian girlhood and of the making of an Asian-American woman, writer, and teacher.

With insight, candor, and grace, Lim reveals the material poverty and violence of her childhood in colonized and then war-torn Malaysia after her father’s business fails and her

Overview

Shirley Geok-lin Lim’s memoir is a courageously frank and deeply affecting account of a Malaysian girlhood and of the making of an Asian-American woman, writer, and teacher.

With insight, candor, and grace, Lim reveals the material poverty and violence of her childhood in colonized and then war-torn Malaysia after her father’s business fails and her mother abandons the family, leaving Shirley to travel the road toward womanhood alone. Lim’s decision in 1968 to leave Malaysia and the man she loves for a Fulbright Scholarship at Brandeis University marks a crucial turning point in her life. Grappling to secure a place for herself in the United States, Lim is often caught between the stifling traditions of the old world and the harsh challenges of the new. But throughout her journey, she is sustained by her “warrior” spirit. Very gradually, and often painfully, she moves from a numbing alienation as a dislocated Asian woman to a new sense of identity as an Asian American woman: professor, wife, mother of a son she determines to raise as an American, and, above all, an impassioned writer.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lim's autobiography certainly qualifies for a place in Feminist Press's Cross-Cultural Memoir Series. Her father, a devotee of Western movies, named her Shirley (for her dimples, he said); the convent school sisters gave her the names Agnes and Jennifer; while Geok or "Jade" was assigned by her grandfather to all the female children, "a name intended to humble, to make a child common." Born in 1944 during the Japanese occupation of Malaysia, Lim was the only girl in a family of five boys. For her, academics represented a way to distinguish herself and earn her father's love. Her mother deserted the family when she was eight, leaving Lim increasingly rebellious and determined to escape. And she succeeded: Scholarship to the University of Malaysia was followed by a Fulbright to Brandeis, and finally an academic career and family in America. She's a sharp, even harsh commentator with a vivid memory for slights. But she's also tough with herself, with her acquiescence to her father's wishes, to a lover's manipulation, to a professor's appropriation of her thesis. She also ponders her inability to reconcile her sympathy with her Puerto Rican students and her resentment of her Puerto Rican neighbors in Brooklyn. The first woman and the first Asian to win the Commonwealth Prize for her book of poetry, Crossing the Peninsula, Lim's descriptions are both lyrical and precise whether they are of the heat, bougainvillea and crowds of her home in Malacca or the wintery climate, the packaged food, the self-conscious bohemianism of New England. Photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Library Journal
In this autobiography of her wild and impoverished Malayan childhood and eventual emigration to America, critic and theorist Lim (Reading the Literature of Asian Americans, LJ 1/93) uses the same gender and ethnic issues discussed in her critical appraisals to delineate her "two lives." She describes the Third World poverty of her Chinese minority family, "the cultural imperialism of British colonial education," Chinese patriarchy and ambition, disappoinments in Malayan home rule, and the isolation of Asian graduate students in America. She offers both flattering and unflattering glimpses of American life as seen through immigrant eyes. Like many successful immigrants, Lim is a survivor with hard-won success. After years of struggle, she has gained prominence in the growing field of Asian American literature. Her revealing self-portrait is recommended for academic libraries and Asian American collections.-Margaret W. Norton, J. Sterling Morton H.S., West Berwyn, Ill.
Booknews
Poet Lim's memoir describes her childhood in Malaysia, the post- colonial days of her university youth, and her eventual migration to the United States. In this cultural document of both the US and Malaysia, her poetic mastery makes the tale vivid by its evocative language and attention to emotional detail, somewhat mitigating the often characteristic triteness of immigrant stories, particularly ones like this that rely heavily on feminist and psychological ideologies. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher

“What sets Among the White Moon Faces apart is that Lim writes with such aching precision, revealing and insightfully analyzing her changing roles as woman, immigrant, scholar, and Other.” —San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

“[Lim’s] fascinating autobiography reads like a novel, with interesting stories stitched into the quilt of her life.” —Washington Post Book World

"Lim’s descriptions are both lyrical and precise whether they are of the heat, bougainvillea and crowds of her home in Malacca or the wintry climate, the packaged food, the self-conscious bohemianism of New England." —Publishers Weekly

"The Malaysian section is stunning: evocative writing bolstered by insights into colonialism, race relations, and the concept of the 'other'. . . . This is an entrancing memoir." —Kirkus Reviews

"[Lim] recounts her journey with a poet’s eye for detail and a storyteller’s gift for narrative." —Ms. magazine

"Among the White Moon Faces is an extraordinary memoir distinguished by a luminous intellect, painful honesty, lyricism, and humor—the work of a triumphant survivor." —Hisaye Yamamoto, author of Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories

"Shirley Geok-lin Lim has written a work of rare clarity and dynamism about identity, location, and the various educations a brave and serious person can achieve in a many-stranded world. Feisty, intense, and canny, this memoir is richly nuanced in both aesthetic and analytic values, fascinating in its dialogues between an individual and her political and social experiences." —Rachel Blau DuPlessis, professor of English, Temple University, and author of The Pink Guitar: Writing as Feminist Practice

"Lim looks back on her early years of growing up always aware of her 'otherness' in this gripping, courageous memoir. In these days of increasing racial polarity, this is a voice that must be heard." —Mitsuye Yamada, founder and coordinator of MultiCultural Women Writers (MCWW) and author of Camp Notes and Other Poems

"A stunningly evocative narrative of the transculturation of an 'immigrant mother'. . . . Lim bathes the memorial legacies of her personal history in Malaysia and the subtle analysis of her Americanization in poetic language so luminescent that it is often just plain dazzling, and wrenching." —Sidonie Smith, professor of English, comparative literature, and women's studies, SUNY Binghamton University, and author of Subjectivity, Identity, and the Body

"Immigrants came to America bearing many fabulous gifts; among the most precious of these are their stories, which span decades, oceans, and continents, opening our minds and hearts to human possibilities we most otherwise never imagine. Shirley Geok-lin Lim's story is just such a gift, bringing us a rich weave of pain and triumphs she recounts her struggles to come to terms with herself as a homeland-bearing American." —Elaine H. Kim, professor of Asian American studies and chair of ethnic studies, University of California, Berkeley, and coeditor of Making Waves: Writings By and About Asian American Women

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781558617902
Publisher:
Feminist Press at CUNY, The
Publication date:
09/01/1997
Series:
Cross-Cultural Memoir Series
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
248
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author


Shirley Geok-lin Lim is the author of Among the White Moon Faces: An Asian American Memoir of Homelands, winner of an American Book Award, as well as Two Dreams: New and Selected Stories, Crossing the Peninsula and Other Poems, and several other books. She is a professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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Among the White Moon Faces: An Asian-American Memoir of Homelands 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seth, reading what you posted bout me made me smile. I didnt know ho much i couldve helped you. I left, well my nook broke, but im back. I will follow what you hav left behind and do my best for the camps. I will forever remeber you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im continuing:<p> More stuff at 'sgbl'<p> People who've left:<p> Kenny/Clyde/Creon/Mysterion/Alecto~<br> I hate you. So much. When you get back, SEB. I have some recomendations for you. Go to the SEB and read the two results after our SEB book too. Why did you have to leave when l got back? Now watch your going to show up now that lm gone. Thats why l hate you.<p> People that are Here:<p> Andy ~<br> What happened to you? I dont want this goodby to be bad but, l was going to place my camp (ethics) in your hands... untill l saw the drama you stir up. Man you were a fu<_>cking cool dude. Untill the drama with Rain and Candace. Oh well, your loss. Try to get back on track though.<p> Rain ~<br> And what happend to you? Im more confused with you. You were actually cool, and a serious rper. Now your totally lame, and drama filled. Why? Quit letting people change you like that and get back to how you were.<p> Candace ~<br> Hmm we dont know eachother. I watched you sometimes though, you seem alright. Except the drama part. Congradulations on being the only one right at 'smm' res two. Don't keep this drama up, if you have the power to see the way camps work, and guess the outcome right, you could be a strong leader. However your the center of that drama. Get over it and change for the better. I once had to change, years ago. I was one of those losers who did nothing but cause drama and imposter people, now look at me. Leader of not one camp, but three. And almost everyone has at least heard my name. Its your turn l think.<p> Jack ~<br> Dude you left. Why? Now your back, and l havent had time to say one word to you. Wish l could have. Listen, you may not be leader of my camps, but l sure do need you. Could you try to keep the camps from being drama filled? You are good at that. Hmm. I have nothing to say to you now. Just keep doin' what your doin'.<p> Cyrus ~<br> Although lately we have had our differences l remember us from old times. Killing off he Gods, and destroying Borgias. Hmm. The more l think bout it, the more l wish those days were still here. I will still be doing stories and my symbol guides every once in a while, if you continue the story at Tak, l will help again. Stay strong man, goodbye.<p> Wayne ~<br> Remember graecus? The camp we used to go to? The we went to half god. You, me, Maria, Cyanide, Sabrina, Maggie, all good friends, and you left. You and Cyanide. Everyonce in a while l see ol' Cyan. Wish he would stay for good. You however, have already stepped up and created the second best camp alive right now. Nice job! Stay strong dude and read my letter at 'sgbl'.<p> Cyanide ~<br> I didnt classify you as gone. You watch us all the time. Even while not posting. I hope you get back on so l can tell you by. Goodluck with life dude. Hope you find out how to fix your problems wit your parents. Goodluck.<p> More at the next res.<p> ~&#167&#1108&#1026 &#25282