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Among the White Moon Faces

Shirley Geok-Lin Lim

Publication Year: 1998

In this American Book Award-winning autobiography, Shirley Geok-lin Lim recalls her girlhood as part of a Chinese family in war-torn Malaysia, and her later life in the United States, where she moves from alienation as a dislocated Asian woman to a new sense of identity as an Asian-American woman. Lim's memoir explores colonialism, Chinese/Malaysian relations, and race relations in the US, as well as the intricacies of the academic life.

Published by: The Feminist Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-v


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pp. vi


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pp. vii


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pp. viii

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pp. 1-5

The first time I heard Shakespeare quoted, it was as a joke. Malayans speaking pidgin English would dolefully break out into Elizabethan lines, "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?" before bursting into chortles and sly looks...

Part One

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pp. 8

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1. Splendor and Squalor

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pp. 9-28

I know no other childhood than mine, and that I had left secret as something both treasured, the one talent that my parents unwittingly have provided me, and shameful, how these same parents have as unwittingly mutilated me. Moving myself from Malacca, a small town two degrees north of the equator, to New England, then to Brooklyn...

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2. War and Marriage

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pp. 29-41

W hen I was six and comic-crazy, running out of the house to stand by the Indian newsstand and browse through the comics clipped to the stand's ropes for an hour or more (the Indian newsman later charged me five cents for the privilege of reading each time I came by), something was misfiring at home. First, Father...

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3. Geographies of Relocation

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pp. 42-59

Strangers were in the house. They were moving furniture, snatching at our clothes in the almeira, cursing loudly. The entire kitchen was stripped. My father stood helplessly to one corner, watching the men at their work. My mother was somewhere packing, crying about her lost bangles. For as long as I could remember...

Part Two

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pp. 62

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4. Pomegranates and English Education

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pp. 63-76

A pomegranate tree grew in a pot on the open-air balcony at the back of the second floor. It was a small skinny tree, even to a small skinny child like me. It had many fruits, marble-sized, dark green, shiny like overwaxed coats. Few grew to any size. The branches were sparse and graceful, as were the tearshaped leaves that fluttered...

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5. Dancing Girl Scholar

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pp. 77-90

My brothers and Daryl, their schoolmate, were chasing each other on the second-floor balcony. A small but tough five-year-old, I chased them even as they ignored me. Suddenly Daryl ran after me. Delighted with fear, I ran into the room where he caught me. We tumbled onto...

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6. Turning Woman

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pp. 91-113

I learned how to be a woman from watching other girls. One afternoon, darkskinned Rosie took me on a bus ride to visit her Malay friend, Ismail, in his bungalow at Klebang. A radio broadcaster, Ismail was a lean brown man with a smile that made his good looks even more seductive. They encouraged me to cross the road to where...


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Part Three

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pp. 115

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7. Outside the Empire

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pp. 117-138

For almost two decades, politicians had argued first for home rule, then for nationhood, and finally Tunku Abdul Rahman, a Malay prince, presided over the separation of the Federation of Malaya from the British empire. In 1957, when I was twelve, the Federation of Malaya received...

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8. Black Bird Singing

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pp. 139-159

The white stuff was falling still, dry light bits of britde snow, drizzling like chemical crystals. Pushed over from the wide avenue and stacked high on the sidewalks, it was in everyone's way, except those who walked on Massachusetts Avenue, risking their exposed sides to upflying wet dirt thrown by the cars...

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9. Two Lives

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pp. 160-187

No one who has not left everything behind her-every acquaintance, tree, corner lamp post, brother, lover-understands the peculiar remorse of the resident alien. Unlike the happy immigrant who sees the United States as a vast real-estate advertisement selling a neighborly future, the person who enters the country as a registered....

Part Four

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pp. 189

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10. Immigrant Mother

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pp. 191-211

How does one make a home? Sometimes I think too much is made of homes, as if because we equate having nothing with being nothing, we burrow deeper into the stuffing of sofas and beds. Too much can be made of homeland. Stories we tell often take their identity from a piece of soil, and the strongest stories...

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11. Moving Home

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pp. 212-232

I want you to write a memoir;' Florence Howe said. The exhibition hall hummed around us, cavernous and over-heated, a maze-like collection of flimsy booths resembling many Asian bazaars I had visited. The men and women who clustered around the publishers' display tables clutched...

About the Author

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pp. 233

E-ISBN-13: 9781558617902
Print-ISBN-13: 9781558611795

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 1998