About the Book

Two Dreams

Two Dreams

New and Selected Stories
April 1997
Trade Paperback · 240 Pages
$14.95 U.S. · $18.00 CAN
ISBN 9781558611689
The Feminist Press at CUNY


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   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.

   Two Dreams draws together the best of Lim's short fiction from nearly three decades, most of it never before available in the United States, and includes important new work. In the new story "Sisters", Su Swee Wing finds escape from her overbearing, traditional father by excelling in school and applying to college in the United States, while the older sister she adores-the fearless, wise-cracking, "no-good" Yen-is pushed into an arranged marriage. "Hunger" is the painfully vivid story of a girl, abandoned by her mother, who is literally starving for lack of attention and love, but hides her hunger from the world because she is ashamed. In the title story, a young woman emigre dreams through the cold New York winter of her hometown in Malaysia, "of the warm salty sea of her childhood, like emryonic fluid…to which she returned in her sleep." But when she visits Malaysia, her dreams reveal that she is no longer at home in the land of her birth.

   Much of the drama of Lim's stories is played out in the "in-between" spaces where differences meet: old values and new, Asia and America, parents and children, men and women. Thsi terrain is fraught with ambivalence and thus with danger-but also with possibility. Lim has explored this territory throughout her writing life; among her mementos are the haunting, corrageously original stories of Two Dreams.