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Catherine Lim facts for kids

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Catherine Lim (林宝音)
Born 21 March 1942 (1942-03-21) (age 81)
Nationality Singaporean
Citizenship Singaporean
Occupation Writer, teacher
Notable work
Little Ironies: Short Stories of Singapore and Or Else, The Lightning God and Other Stories.

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 some 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 PhD in applied linguistics from the National University of Singapore. Lim then 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. The short story collection was the first Singapore book to be tested for the Cambridge International Examinations in 1989 and 1990. 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.

In 2015, Little Ironies: Stories of Singapore was selected by The Business Times as one of the Top 10 English Singapore books from 1965–2015, alongside titles by Arthur Yap and Daren Shiau. In the same year, The Straits Times' Akshita Nanda selected Little Ironies: Stories of Singapore as one of 10 classic Singapore books. "Catherine Lim's early short, sharp fiction describes the results of such social engineering", she wrote, "a Singapore growing more cosmopolitan and Singaporeans losing touch with their roots. ....."



  • The Serpent's Tooth (1982, Times Books International) ISBN: 9812042113
  • The Bondmaid (1995, C. Lim Pub; 1997, 1998, Orion; 1997, 1998, The Overlook Press; 2011, Marshall Cavendish Editions) ISBN: 9810072953 ISBN: 0752807501 ISBN: 9789814346207
  • The Teardrop Story Woman (1998, Orion; 2011, Marshall Cavendish Editions) ISBN: 9789814346214
  • Following the Wrong God Home (2001, Orion Publishing; 2001, Allen & Unwin; 2011, Marshall Cavendish Editions) ISBN: 0752841203 ISBN: 9789814346221
  • A Leap of Love: A Novella (2003, Horizon Books) ISBN: 9789810805944
  • The Song of Silver Frond (2003, Orion; 2011, Marshall Cavendish Editions) ISBN: 9789814346238
  • Miss Seetoh in the World (2011, Marshall Cavendish Editions) ISBN: 9789814328364

Short story collections

  • Little Ironies: Stories of Singapore (1978, Heinemann Asia) ISBN: 9971640295
  • Or Else, the Lightning God and Other Stories (1980, Heinemann Asia; 1988, Federal Publications; 2012, Heinemann) ISBN: 9971640147 ISBN: 981017621X ISBN: 9789810624699
  • They Do Return...But Gently Lead Them Back (1983, Times Books International) ISBN: 9812042032
  • The Shadow of a Shadow of a Dream: Love Stories of Singapore (1987, Heinemann Asia; 1999, Horizon Books) ISBN: 9971641186 ISBN: 9810412509
  • O Singapore! Stories in Celebration (1989, Times Books International) ISBN: 9812041362
  • Deadline for Love and Other Stories (1992, Heinemann Asia; 1999, Horizon Books) ISBN: 9810412495
  • Meet Me on the Queen Elizabeth 2! (1993, Heinemann Asia; 1999, Horizon Books) ISBN: 9971643324 ISBN: 9810412517
  • The Best of Catherine Lim (1993, Heinemann Asia) ISBN: 9971643359
  • The Woman's Book of Superlatives (1993, Times Books International) ISBN: 9812044019
  • The Howling Silence: tales of the dead and their return (1999, Horizon Books) ISBN: 9810417780
  • The Catherine Lim Collection (2009, Marshall Cavendish Editions) ISBN: 9789812618566


  • Love's Lonely Impulses (1992, Heinemann Asia) ISBN: 9971642840
  • Humoresque (2006, Horizon Books) ISBN: 9810559593


  • Unhurried Thoughts At My Funeral (2005, Horizon Books) ISBN: 9810523068
  • A Watershed Election: Singapore’s GE 2011 (2011, Marshall Cavendish Editions) ISBN: 9789814351706
  • Roll Out the Champagne, Singapore!: An Exuberant Celebration of the Nation's 50th Birthday (2014, Marshall Cavendish Editions) ISBN: 9789814561587
  • An Equal Joy: Reflections on God, Death and Belonging (2017, Marshall Cavendish Editions) ISBN: 9789814771795


  • Kampong Amber (1994)


  • Gwee Li Sui, ed. Written Country: The History of Singapore through Literature (2016, Landmark Publications) ISBN: 9789814189668

See also

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