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|Catherine Lim (林宝音)|
|Born||21 March 1942
Catherine Lim Poh Imm (Chinese: 林宝音; pinyin: Lín Bǎoyīn, born 21 March 1942) is a Singaporean fiction author known for writing about Singapore society and of themes of traditional Chinese culture. Hailed as the "doyenne of Singapore writers", Lim has published nine collections of short stories, five novels, two poetry collections, and numerous political commentaries to date. Her social commentary in 1994, titled The PAP and the people - A Great Affective Divide and published in The Straits Times criticised the ruling political party's agendas.
Lim was born in Kulim (Malaya) and studied in the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus. Early childhood reading was mainly influenced by British fiction, including Enid Blyton, Richmal Crompton and comics.
She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Malaya in 1963, moving to Singapore in 1967. In 1988, she received her Ph.D in applied linguistics from the National University of Singapore. Lim subsequently attended Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley as a Fulbright scholar (1990). She also worked as a teacher and later as project director with the Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore and as a specialist lecturer with the Regional English Language Centre, teaching sociolinguistics and literature. In 1992, she left her professional career to become a full-time writer. Lim was subsequently made a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (France) in 2003 and an ambassador of the Hans Christian Andersen Foundation (Copenhagen) in 2005. She received an honorary doctorate in literature from Murdoch University.
Lim published her first short story collection called Little Ironies: Stories of Singapore in 1978. A succeeding collection, Or Else, the Lightning God and other Stories, was published in 1980. Another story collection that followed in this tradition was O Singapore!: Stories in Celebration from 1989, but two years earlier she published The Shadow of a Shadow of a Dream, which found Lim experimenting with new techniques and extending her subject range.
Her first novel, The Serpent's Tooth, was published in 1982. Other books that have been published since then include The Bondmaid (1995) and Following the Wrong God Home (2001). The major theme in her stories is the role of women in traditional Chinese society and culture. In 1998 Lim was awarded the Montblanc-NUS Centre for the Arts Literary Award and in 1999 she received the S.E.A. Write Award.
In 2000, Lim worked with the now-defunct web portal Lycos Asia to write an e-novella called Leap of Love. It was sold online (at 19 cents a chapter) before it was published by Horizon Books in 2003. It served as basis for the film The Leap Years by Raintree Pictures in 2008.
Another best-selling novel was The Bondmaid, which sold 75,000 copies.
Lim came into conflict with the People's Action Party (PAP) in 1994 when she wrote an article published in The Straits Times (PAP and the People: A Great Affective Divide). From comments made by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and other cabinet ministers, especially George Yeo, this episode gave rise to the political "out of bounds" marker that came to be known as "boh tua boh suay" (literally, "no big, no small" in the Chinese dialect of Hokkien, to mean "no respect for rank and seniority"). Lee Kuan Yew dismissed Lim's views as "the popular theory that the Western press writes about". In his memoirs, Lee is quoted as saying:
Supposing Catherine Lim was writing about me and not the prime minister. She would not dare, right? Because my posture, my response has been such that nobody doubts that if you take me on, I will put on knuckle-dusters and catch you in a cul-de-sac. There is no other way you can govern in a Chinese society.
- The Serpent's Tooth, Times Books International, Singapore, 1982
- The Bondmaid, self-published, 1995 (Orion 1997; foreign edns 1997, 1998)
- The Teardrop Story Woman, Orion, London, 1998
- Following the Wrong God Home, Allen & Unwin, London, 2001
- Leap of Love, Horizon Books, Singapore, 2003 (a novella)
- The Song of Silver Frond, Orion, London, 2003
- Miss Seetoh and the World, Marshall Cavendish, 2010
Short Story Collections
- Little Ironies: Stories of Singapore, Heinemann Asia, Singapore, 1978
- Or Else, the Lightning God and Other Stories, Heinemann Asia, Singapore, 1980
- They Do Return...But Gently Lead Them Back, Times Books International, Singapore, 1983
- The Shadow of a Shadow of a Dream: Love Stories of Singapore,Heinemann Asia, Singapore, 1987
- O Singapore! Stories in Celebration, Times Books International, Singapore, 1988
- Deadline for Love and Other Stories, Heinemann Asia, 1992
- Meet Me on the Queen Elizabeth 2!, Heinemann Asia, Singapore, 1993
- The Best of Catherine Lim, Heinemann Asia, Singapore, 1993
- The Woman's Book of Superlatives, Times Books International, 1993
- The Howling Silence: tales of the dead and their return, Horizon Books, Singapore 1999
- Love's Lonely Impulses, Heinemann Asia, Singapore, 1992
- Humoresque, Horizon Books, Singapore, 2006
- Unhurried Thoughts At My Funeral, Horizon Books, Singapore, 2005
- Quayum (2007), p. 111
- LITERARY MEAL: EAT YOUR WORDS WITH CATHERINE LIM 3 November 2012 Old Parliament House, Singapore
- Yap, Stephanie (3 August 2008). "Daily despair". Singapore: Straits Times Life. p. 23.
- The PAP and the people - A Great Affective Divide 3 September 1994 The Straits Times
- Colony, Nation, and Globalisation 2010, Hong Kong University Press
- "'Book Talk' in School," LPC Reporter, Vol.8, No.2, 1987, p.5
- "Taking the Pulse of Singapore," Asiaweek, 23 August 1987
- Sleep & Get Rich! 2009, Armour Publishing
- S.E.A Write Award Winners List 1999 S.E.A. Write Award
- "Debate yes, but do not take on those in authority as equals", The Straits Times 20 February 1995
- Lee Kuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas 1998, Singapore Times
- Quayum, Mohammad A., Peninsular Muse: Interviews with modern Malaysian and Singaporean poets, novelists and dramatists, Peter Lang, 2007, ISBN 3-03911-061-6
|Library resources about
|By Catherine Lim|
- Catherine Lim's blog
- Catherine Lim on Postcolonialweb.org
- Review of "Following the Wrong God Home" in Electica Magazine
- "Catherine Lim opens e-book chapter" – ZDNet Asia. 29 November, 2000
- Catherine Lim interview in the Plus section of TODAY. 15 February, 2006