â€œNegative Differenceâ€ and Its Role in Writing: Shirley Geok-lin Limâ€™s <i>Among the White Moon Faces<i/>
This essay addresses Shirley Geok-lin Limâ€™s Among the White Moon Faces: An Asian American Memoir of Homelands (1996) to argue the significance of the diasporic vision in the American literary imagination. I show that through a politics of return and re-engagement with the Malaysian context of the mid-twentieth century via her memoir, Lim presents history from the perspective of the oppressed and colonised. She also performs the important function of preserving and transmitting memory in diaspora. In addition to the benefits for the Malaysian American, this helps individualise the immigrant as an entity with historical dimensions for more mainstream audiences. The essay introduces the notion of "negative difference" as well, showing how Lim periodically felt herself marked as the devilish or unassimilable other in both Malaysia and the United States. Yet she uses the memoir as a reflective tool to evaluate the impact of such marking and often mobilises her writing as weapon or counter-act against such othering. In this regard, the essay argues for the beneficial effects of adversity on writing as conveyed in this particular work by Lim.
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