Among the White Moon Faces
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.
“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.”
“[Lim’s] fascinating autobiography reads like a novel, with interesting stories stitched into the quilt of her life.”
"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."
"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."
"[Lim] recounts her journey with a poet’s eye for detail and a storyteller’s gift for narrative."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
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