National and Diasporic Identity in Shirley Geok-lin Lim’s <i>Among the White Moon Faces</i> and Tash Aw’s <i>Five Star Billionaire</i>


  • Walter Swee Huat Lim


Anglophone Chinese diasporic literature has historically focused on the sociocultural and political implications of the movement of Chinese subjects from the Middle Kingdom to the West, in particular the United States. In this representation of the Chinese diasporic experience, China symbolises political and economic “lack,†compelling many Chinese to consider looking overseas for a better life.

Malaysia-born author Shirley Lim contributes to the corpus of Anglophone Chinese diasporic literature by highlighting the significance of Southeast Asia in literary representations of the Chinese diasporic experience. In Among the White Moon Face, Lim emphasises the importance of the postcolonial experience in shaping the Southeast-Asian immigrant’s choice of alternative national homelands. Choosing the United States instead of Great Britain as Shirley Lim’s adopted homeland carries ideological implications for the postcolonial author.

Like Shirley Lim, Taipei-born Chinese-Malaysian author Tash Aw represents Malaysia as the starting point for transnational crossings. Unlike Lim, however, Aw portrays China instead of the West as the land of promise. In Five Star Billionaire, Aw imagines the possibilities of Shanghai as a city representing China’s economic prosperity with all the problems that attend the pursuit of capital and dreams. Malaysian subjects of Chinese descent make their way to Shanghai in pursuit of their dreams. While courage and tenacity are valorised as attributes necessary for success, they do not always produce the desired result. Five Star Billionaire represents the fragmented and alienated nature of individual and social being fashioned by Asian capital.


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How to Cite

Huat Lim, W. S. (2018). National and Diasporic Identity in Shirley Geok-lin Lim’s &lt;i&gt;Among the White Moon Faces&lt;/i&gt; and Tash Aw’s &lt;i&gt;Five Star Billionaire&lt;/i&gt;. Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, 12(2), 9–22. Retrieved from



Section II: Twenty-First Century Malaysian Literature