Critical Introduction

by Tan Teck Heng, 9 Oct 2016

It is not an intuitive choice to include Shirley Geok-lin Lim on a website dedicated to Singapore poetry, given that the Malaysia-born poet, fiction writer, and academic grew up in Malacca. However, as is often the case, Malaysian writers born before Singapore’s independence from Malaya in 1965 are typically considered part of both countries’ national canons–Lim’s predecessors such as Wang Gungwu and Ee Tiang Hong are also commonly mentioned (with caveats) in anthologies or critical studies involving Singapore literature. Even so, this process of claim-staking is complicated by Lim’s emigration to the United States at the age of twenty-four, after completing her Bachelor’s at the University of Malaya. Her scholarly career (kickstarted by a Fulbright Scholarship) began with a PhD programme at Brandeis University, eventually taking her to professorial posts across both the East and West Coast of the United States, and also several countries including Singapore and Hong Kong; she is currently an Emeritus Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

It would be more accurate thus to describe Lim as a writer with multiple homelands. Critic Jeffrey Partridge for instance sees her as an Asian American writer who is “claiming diaspora” (99) in her writing. Fellow poet Boey Kim Cheng perhaps explains it most explicitly in his essay-portrait of Lim:

Her own hybrid nature, the entangled strands of her make-up, Peranakan, Chinese, Malaysian, Asian-American, with multiple attachments to places like Singapore and Hong Kong, and her own migration, preclude any real homecoming. (81)

Lim herself acknowledges her own internationalism; her personal website first uses the term “American writer” in the subheading before elaborating in a biographical blurb that she is an “Asian American/Malaysian-Singapore writer.” In a 2003 interview with Mohammed A. Quayum, Lim also states that her work is “deterritorialized” (88) and that “Imagination is a tricky power; it refuses to stay in one or even two places” (89).

Yet, Singapore remains one important site of Lim’s vast literary production, which includes ten collections of poetry, four volumes of short stories, three novels, and a memoir. And as a scholar, Lim has also published numerous papers, two book-length critical studies, and edited or co-edited a number of significant anthologies, such as The Forbidden Stitch: An Asian American Women’s Anthology (which won her an American Book Award in 1990) and Writing Singapore: An Historical Anthology of Singapore’s Literature. Notably, she made her literary debut in Singapore in 1980 with the publication of poetry collection Crossing the Peninsula & Other Poems; it is also introduced by Edwin Thumboo, who is often dubbed the city-state’s “unofficial poet laureate”. This book won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, a first for both an Asian and a woman. According to her memoir Among the White Moon Faces (which nabbed her a second American Book Award in 1997), a brief meeting with Thumboo prior to the publication of Crossing the Peninsula left her inspired that “such a thing as Singaporean/Malaysian writing existed, and that I was to be part of it” (283).

Lim’s debut collection garnered her a degree of international recognition, and also roots her positioning in Malaysia and Singapore’s literary scene. However, many biographical details and Malaysia’s political climate problematise such simple classifications. As critic Lim Chee Seng notes, “Lim had written [Crossing the Peninsula] as a Malaysian but ironically in the year the prize was announced she became an American citizen” (7). Further, as Lim herself observes, Anglophone literature by Malaysian writers was not duly recognised by the state during that era:

English majors did not study Malaysian English language writing until 1966, when Professor Lloyd Fernando taught the first course in Commonwealth literature, and which was also when I began collecting what we may, for want of a better term, call “local” writing. Post-1969, Malaysian English-language “local” writing was officially categorised as not a national literature, the national status being restricted to literature written in Bahasa Malaysia. (“English in Malaysia” 2)

Alastair Pennycook observes that “In the context of these struggles for the assertion of Malay and its literary tradition, to write in other languages–Chinese, Tamil, English–may be seen as merely ‘sectional’ at best, and [ . . . ] even subversive at worst” (274).

It may follow then, that Lim’s anglophonic writing fits more comfortably into Singapore’s literary “canon” (with the other foot in Asian American literature), given that “since 1965, [Singapore’s] mother-tongue bilingual policy has resulted in English as the prestige language” (Lim, “English in Malaysia” 18). Indeed, Lim was mentioned in the same breath as Singapore-based writers such as Edwin Thumboo and Goh Poh Seng in a news article in 1982 (see Alan John). Later in 1986, Lim’s stint as writer-in-residence at the National University of Singapore (see Ang Lay Wah) provides a wieldy way for Singapore journalists and critics to position her as a Singapore-based writer. Lim has also since acknowledged her connection to Singapore’s literary scene; she has expressed admiration for Singapore-Malaysian peers such as Ee Tiang Hong, Arthur Yap, Lee Tzu Pheng and Cyril Wong among many others, explaining that she knows “more about the Singapore writing scene than about English-language literature from Malaysia” (Mohammed 92). She attributes this to the time spent in Singapore on fellowships, studying the city-state’s Anglophonic literature.

Given the context, Lim’s iconic status and visibility in Malaysia, Singapore and Asian American literature invites us to question imperatives placed on nationalist or even regional paradigms to reading literature. This uneasy relationship between Lim and a website dedicated to canonic Singapore poets is thus instructive, and makes her inclusion—as one from simultaneously inside and outside Singapore’s “national canon”—all the more important. 


Poetry Collections

Lim’s poetry stretches across at least ten collections, not to mention publications in anthologies, literary magazines, or other print and web platforms based across the United States, Asia and Australia. Anthologies include A Private Landscape (1968), The Third Woman (1980), and Outloud Anthology (2014), while poems can also be found in literary and interdisciplinary journals including Women’s Studies Quarterly (2002), Asian Review of Books (2014), and Cha (2015), just to name a few. Her voluminous output defies simple sammary, but this section will give a brief overview of the corpus.

Lim’s well-known debut collection, Crossing the Peninsula (1980), touches on a broad number of topics, but starts primarily with abstract meditations on the nature of poetry. Pieces such as “Imagine” implies that poetry is “a sheet of glass / reflecting nothing / but itself” (4) or, as with “To What Ends?” (5), a medium of concealment that fails in “breaking the bottomless / surface of the ocean” (5). These ruminations adopt a postmodernist stance towards the inadequacy of language in representing any given reality, though the pieces are executed in a style closer to lyric romanticism. Other poems like her series of reactions to European-American greats such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Marianne Moore, Paul Cezanne and Edvard Munch reflect some degree of “writing back to Empire,” though stronger postcolonial themes can be found in pieces like “Christmas in Exile”. Yet other pieces mine her youth in Malaysia for material, but it is “Dedicated to Confucius Plaza”—republished various times in later collections—which has gained some interest from international critics over the years for its sardonic characterisation of life as an Asian American woman.

Lim’s disparate subjects and themes in her debut benefited from sustained reworkings and more coherent organisation in the next three volumes: No Man’s Grove (1985), Modern Secrets (1989) and Monsoon History (1994). The latter two reprint a number of pieces from Lim’s first two book-length efforts, but also mark a change in marketing strategy by opening with poems that focus on Lim’s Malayan origins and her Peranakan and Chinese ethnicity. This perhaps reflects two global trends during late eighties and nineties: that there is increasing interest in postcolonial and ‘ethnic’ literature, and also that regional writers and publishers are growing more confident in marketing a ‘marginal voice,’ orientalised or otherwise. While much of Lim’s poetry remains in free verse (a preference which will continue throughout her career), she also displays an inclination towards formal experiments with sonnets and villanelles. In particular, “Pantoun for Chinese Women” from No Man’s Grove has been singled out by critics as an exemplary piece, given its use of the pantoun and its criticism of Chinese infanticide. However, those pieces which do not necessarily draw from her cultural identity remain largely ignored, despite poems such as “Woman and Vase” (No Man’s Grove 19), which demonstrates agile and unexpected experiments with syntax and parataxis.

The next volume, What the Fortune Teller Didn’t Say (1998), represents a significant maturation of Lim’s aesthetics. Apart from featuring largely uncollected poetry, the book demonstrates a seamless blending of Lim’s multiple affiliations to various homelands. Poems such as “Listening to the Punjabi singer,” “Mango,” and “Oranges” stand out for their effortless rendering of Lim’s own ambivalence towards postcolonial nostalgia, notions of national belonging, and global mobilities. Her approach is to anchor such topics in domestic or quotidian scenes, and the same grounding is used to touch on topics ranging from mortality to gender and motherhood. Many of these new poems made their way into the next collection Listening to the Singer (2007), which is perhaps the most representative collection of Lim’s oeuvre.

New material will only emerge in print after eleven years, collected in the book Walking Backwards (2010). This collection marks a bold departure: while the poems are rooted in Australia, Hong Kong and the West Coast of the United States, the topics are eclectic, at once personal and grandiose. Formally, her lines tend toward choppy, jauntier use of free verse, which seem to be informed by a desire for succinctness. Some poems, such as “Six Ages,” describe a mother’s desire to reconnect with her older son; others (such as “Seminar Series”) deal with her own privileged position as an academic expatriate in Hong Kong; yet others deal with cultural belonging. In “Passport,” for instance, Lim traces her own broken genealogy to China:

I am walking backwards into China
Where everyone looks like me
And no one is astonished my passport
Declares I am foreign, only
Envious at my good luck. (35)

“Passport” unpacks the complexity of being diasporic Chinese while passing outwardly as native Chinese, and the poem foregrounds how the persona (and Lim) is thrice removed from a “motherland” by way of ex-colony Hong Kong, then Malaysia, then America. Lim’s method of tracing such itineraries of selfhood is perhaps a resistance against what Caren Irr calls “paratactic regression” (9), which refers to how writers today create “relatively continuous, tendentiously homogenous, world space” (9). Such homogeneity blurs distinctions between cultures, and ignores cultural histories. Taken together, Lim’s meditations on being Chinese reveal a modern anxiety about cultural selfhood and identity politics—rather than any straightforward attempt at claiming “diaspora,” “liminality” or “Chineseness” and “Americanness,” she shows how the self is imbricated in layers and chains of identification and dissimilation, often negotiated problematically through global capitalism.

In recent years, Lim follows that sensibility of working against paratactic regression by focusing on ever more localised or particularised scenes, while implying that such critical ways of looking at tokenistic belonging should become part of our psyche. In Mall Ballads (2013), Lim scrutinises the shopping mall, offering scenes of the skating rink as perhaps an allegory of poetry—a symbol of how expression via poetry is marked by both artifice and artistry. While the skating rink is an unnatural and artificial replication of a frozen lake, Lim’s portraits of ice skaters emphasise how they perform their art with gusto and resilience. Her ice skaters are perhaps metaphors for urban poets, who turn sterile, concrete landscapes and consumerist culture into art. Poems from Mall Ballads are collected with new work in Do You Live In? (2015), a collection which puts renewed focus on world events, with some poems a direct and explicit reaction to current affairs. For instance, many deal with Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement of 2014, while others deal with our complicities with environmental damage, economic exploitation, and labour arbitration. Lim also adopts more humour—oftentimes dark—in Do You Live In? In the poems “Do you live in Singapore?” and “Our People’s Wish,” Lim draws from Wendy Cope’s “Lonely Hearts” to craft jaunty, humorous questions regarding weighty issues of class and gender, as well as Hong Kong’s problematic re-assimilation into China. Consider refrains such as

Can someone make my mother’s wish come true?
Transnational CEO with private plane,
Do you live in Singapore? Is it you? (31)

Or

Can someone make our people’s wish come true?
A democrat the PRC can love.
Do you live in Central? Is it you? (86)

These transpose the tonality of speed dating, self-promotion and recruitment drives onto contexts rife with systemic discrimination or identity politics.

But if Do You Live In? uses poetry to deal directly with topics of great urgency, Ars Poetica for the Day (2015) returns Lim to poems with more “timeless” frames. This latest collection brings readers back to familiar ground: “To the Sonnet” among others writes back to the canonical emblems of Anglophone poetry. Others like “The Well” (32) and “old woman undressing” (58) use repetition to evoke the cyclical, structural misogyny and ageism that forces women into specific roles throughout their lives. Repetition and rhythm is used in more subtle ways in Lim’s prose-poetry, where pieces such as “Basalt, Greenstone and Eclogite” (94-95) and “Choke. Gasp.” (96-97) present two to three pages of text without paragraphing or line breaks. The motivation for such a form is unclear, though a clue might be found in the acerbic “Notes from an Open Mic Poetry Reading” (89), which criticises the seemingly self-indulgent culture of some poetry readings or even spoken word performances:

Writing jokes and sharing them at the open mic
reading
               asks for the death penalty. You’re lucky
                I forgot to bring a gun.
Reading one last poem after your time was up six
minutes ago
                is not Western Civ. (90)

Perhaps Lim’s own prose-poetry might be understood as scripts to a spoken word performance—her own explorations of what this new performative, literary medium means, despite the naval-gazing it seems to encourage.


Reception

Despite getting her start in poetry and the expansive scope of her poetic work, Lim appears to garner more international attention for her novels. A cursory look at critical material available reveals far more sustained studies of Lim’s prose (primarily Joss and Gold, Sister Swing and White Moon Faces) than her poetry. This phenomenon might be due to problematic disciplinary biases, given that Lim fits conveniently into two primary fields of scholarly inquiry which privileges prose: postcolonial and Asian American literature. As Brent Hayes Edwards puts it, “postcolonialism has almost exclusively been considered through the novel” (2). He explains it as a matter of “convenience” (2); the poem is, typically speaking, formally denser than prose, and lends itself less easily to convenient readings of texts as Third World national allegories, or as commentaries on identity and class politics (Edwards 2-3).  Further, an Asian American and Malaysian/Singaporean memoir such as White Moon Faces fits easily within a genealogy of feminist Asian American literature, as inaugurated by Maxine Hong-Kingston’s The Woman Warrior. Lim’s own critical studies of Kingston, and her pedagogical work on Modern Language Association’s Approaches to Teaching Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, undoubtedly begs the comparison.

Even where Lim’s poetry is discussed, more attention is paid to poems which lend themselves to readings of race and gender. Critic Maria Melendez has voiced concern over such scholarly biases, which she observes are not helped by the framing of Lim’s texts—for instance, poetry collection Walking Backwards is published by West End Press, which is branded as a publishing house for women and multicultural writers. Melendez sees such practices as part of a damaging normativity which assumes that “the marginalized individual’s life [and her lived experience] is the truest thing she can bring to literature’s Great Conversation” (27). She continues:

Today in the US, the multicultural poet and the woman poet are both expected to come to the altar of publishing bearing the fruits of their lived experiences, with little, if anything, “made up.” After all, it’s ourselves as ethnically marked and gendered beings who are targeted for exclusion and celebration, since it is our ethnically marked and gendered selves that have been marginalized. This offering-up-a-specific-self is both freeing and limiting—freeing in the sense that we are, in poetry, encouraged to make something deeply meaningful of our own lives, but limiting in that we are not invited to play in fields unbound by our names and circumstances. (27)

She argues that such expectations imposed on writers like Lim can limit formal experimentation, leading to largely “free-verse, first-person narrator books revealing truths from lives that are otherwise occluded from mainstream view” (27).                      

Melendez is right in that Lim’s most visible poems often fit such a mould—if only because many critics in the fields of postcolonial or Asian American literature are selecting for wieldy poems which check all the boxes: lived experience, being female, being non-white.  But Lim’s extensive use of free verse and a personal voice is not necessarily a negative; moreover, critics have often praised her experimentation with sonnets and villanelles. As poet Wong Phui Nam puts it, Lim is “the rare Malaysian-Singaporean poet who uses rhyme, though irregularly, and traditional forms” (Listening to the Singer xxii), yet avoids the pitfall of crafting poetry which is derivative of native English traditions through “investing her lines with the speech rhythm of everyday, ordinary conversation” (xxii). Examples of Lim’s experimentation with traditional forms include “Pantoun For Chinese Women,” a pantoun which dramatises female infanticide in China, which critics have described as “a moving and powerful poem on a feminist theme that is as deeply felt as it is artfully constructed” (Patke and Holden 140).

But if there is a formulaic approach to writing  “ethnic” and “feminist” poetry, Lim’s best pieces are perhaps well-wrought spins on such a formula. In Crossing the Peninsula, “Christmas in Exile” is a free verse reflection on the ironic circumstances of an immigrant during the titular festive season:

Christmas is coming and I think of home:
A colonial Christmas and second-hand nostalgia [ . . . ]

The ambiguity in the title suggestively indicates that both persona and Christmas are in exile. The persona is presumably a “tropical native” who has migrated to a colder country, an exile of sorts, and misses her childhood Christmases “beneath / The clear hot equatorial sky”. That scene setting turns imagistic clichés of wintry Christmases on their heads; instead of winter wonderlands, Lim’s persona associates Christmas at home with “home-made cottonwool snow” and “cheap plastic conifer”. These cheap imitations of festive symbols might imply postcolonial mimicry or even the commodification of Christmas, but Lim also frames them as ironic, yet authentic signifiers of belonging, especially for a Christian who grew up in the tropics. Christmas itself is in exile, having been adapted by the “tropical natives” to suit their environment and culture. The poem thus destabilises colonial and Anglo-European signifiers of a “traditional” Christmas.

Yet, unlike peers such as Thumboo, who work with explicitly nationalistic themes, Lim’s postcolonial poetry is rooted in her own highly subjective experience of colonialism’s reverberations. Her work resists Frederic Jameson’s notorious claim that Third World literature should always be read as national allegory (see Jameson 69). In the ironically named “National Poem,” she protests against artistic production that is overtly nationalistic in style and motivation. The short piece is a disjointed series of violent sensory impressions, tenuously linked by free association. The poem opens with a declarative “Junta,” followed up by “Phantom panther,” perhaps bringing to mind the violence propagated by the nationalist Black Panthers of the 1960s in the States, or the militant Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka. In subsequent lines, words typically associated with nature are hijacked by militaristic valences. The “Rustling in the / Background” is not the susurrus of trees in the wind, but really the “Sound of spiked boots / Tearing / A green field”; “Green” refers not to grass and leaves but the colour “Of jungle / fatigues”; and finally, there is no “nature” per se, merely the “nature / Of jungle drums / Drumming / So loud / We cannot hear.” Lim’s strategic use of enjambment heightens the sense of disruption which is produced when the natural is distorted to fit the rituals of a militant nationalism, with its marches, uniforms, and drumming. For Lim, poetry should perhaps resemble water instead:

All life, some said,
Is water. Yet contained,
It can be constant.
Only images reflected
Shift, warp, and blur
With air or sediment stirred.
Water remains,
Although not the same
As was a moment past. (“On Water”)   

Here, water is a metaphor for that natural raw material of art—life experience. When one crafts her experience into poetry, the words may remain the same (“Water remains”), but its meaning remains fluid (“Although not the same / As was a moment past”). The poem becomes a watery mirror to a reader’s context and thoughts, and its meaning shifts and evolves each time she returns to examine it.

Lim’s own comments on her artistic process confirm that her poetry is highly personal and emotional, based on the “heat of the feelings that move me to the act of composing”  (Mohammed 87); for her, poetry is “an extravagant exhibition of intensity” (87). Her style and subjects of choice has led critic Bernard Gadd to conclude (in his review of Modern Secrets) that “all Lim’s work is within the tradition of lyric romanticism,” citing a direct address of the reader without “intermediary of persona or fictive device” (533) as the clearest formal indication of this lineage (See also Weihsin Gui). Indeed, Lim’s work might be better classified as lyric romanticism which occasionally touches on the issues of postcolonialism, transnationalism, global capitalism, and gender.

In fact, critics often fixate on Lim’s thematic concerns while overlooking the formal merits of her poetry, one of which is, as Melendez puts it, an “exhilarating agility with verbs” (27). One notable example is “Woman and Vase” (No Man’s Grove 19), where Lim blends woman, vase, and the morning into an impressionistic blur through dextrous plays on parataxis and syntax. Beginning with the image of a vase, we’re told the vase’s “Blue contours gleam, a grey morning / to be filled with flowers”. The vase’s contours and hollowness is likened to an empty morning, to be filled with a floral promise—here, Lim extends the metaphor effortlessly. Simultaneously, the start of day is also likened to a vase awaiting the promise of flowers. Next, the woman who “saunters through the room” has a form which “irradiates / The filling of flowers”. This woman is at once agent and object; the one who fills the vase and day with promise, and the vase itself, a receptacle which anticipates the promise of the day. Lim ends the poem with destruction, however:

Breath streams through the woman’s mouth.
Its silence intones in the empty
House as a gong vibrating
In a high wind, striking the vase,
Shattering the flowers.

It is not only the vase that shatters, but the flowers; the destruction of any one component of this private moment also destroys the perfect unity achieved by a simple domestic act. Throughout the poem, Lim’s comments on gender, if any, are oblique. But her artful blend of imagery and metaphors appears to be a playful spin on dead metaphors related to femininity, sexual anticipation, and receptacles—think for instance of common sayings, such as “the morning holds promise,” or how a woman’s form is “poured into the dress,” and so forth. In “Woman and Vase,” Lim rewrites these dead, patriarchal metaphors by creating a space which belongs solely to the woman, even if only for a moment. Lim’s metaphors of  proffering and receiving, of being woman and being receptacle, are clearly in service to the woman’s own private pleasure, in a simple act of arranging flowers for no one’s eyes but her own.

This Woolfian meditation on femininity and language might have remained largely ignored because it does not deal directly with being Asian American, or being a postcolonial woman. Which is why such attention to marginal writers is urgently needed, to avoid a reading culture of ghettoisation which relegates them to oracles of “lived, marginal experience,” while neglecting aspects of their work which deal with other themes or formal experimentation. In Lim’s case, we might do well to note her contributions to lyric poetry and traditional forms such as the sonnet and the villanelle, with an eye to how it shapes content that extends beyond her brand as an “ethnic” female writer.


Works Cited

Ang Lay Wah. “Shock of delight and of recognition.” The Straits Times 22 February 1986: 1. NewspaperSG, National Library Board, Web.

Boey Kim Cheng. “Walking between Land and Water: Pedestrian Poetics in the Poetry of Shirley Geok-lin Lim.” Asiatic 8.1. (2014): 72-84. PDF.

Edwards, Brent Hayes. “Introduction: The Genres of Postcolonialism.” Social Text 22.1 (2004): 1-15. PDF.

Gadd, Bernard. “Singapore.” Rev. of Modern Secrets, by Shirley Geok-lin Lim. World  Literature Today, 64.3 (1990): 533. PDF.

Gui, Weihsin. “Lyric Poetry and Postcolonialism: The subject of self-forgetting.” Journal of Postcolonial Writing 43.3 (2007): 264-277. PDF.

Irr, Caren. Toward the Geopolitical Novel: U.S. Fiction in the Twenty-First Century. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013.

Jameson, Frederic. “Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism.” Social Text 15 (1986): 65-88. PDF.

John, Alan. “How they’ve fared.” The Straits Times 1 September 1982: 1. NewspaperSG, National Library Board, Web.

Lim Chee Seng. “Shirley’s long farewell.” New Straits Times 30 June 1999: 7. PDF.

Lim, Shirley Geok-lin. Among the White Moon Faces: Memoirs of a Nonya Feminist. Singapore and Kuala Lumpur: Times Books International, 1996.

—. Ars Poetica for the Day. Singapore: Ethos Books, 2015.

—. Crossing the Peninsula & Other Poems. Kuala Lumpur: Heinemann Educational Books, 1980.

—. Do You Live In? Singapore: Ethos Books, 2015.

—. “English in Malaysia: Identity and the Market Place.” Asiatic 9.2 (2015): 1-25. PDF.

—. Listening to the Singer: New and Selected Malaysian Poems. Petaling Jaya: Maya Press, 2007.

—. Mall Ballads: Hong Kong Festival Walk Poems. Hong Kong: City University of Hong Kong, 2013.

—. Modern Secrets: New and Selected Poems. Sydney: Dangaroo Press, 1989.

—. Monsoon History: Selected Poems. London: Skoob Books Publishing, 1994.

—. No Man’s Grove and Other Poems. Singapore: National University of Singapore English Department Press, 1985. 

—. Shirley Geok-lin Lim: an American writer of poetry, fiction, and criticism. University of California, Santa Barbara, 2013. Web.

—. Walking Backwards: New Poems. Albuquerque: West End Press, 2010. 

—. What the Fortune Teller Didn’t Say. Albuquerque: West End Press, 1998.

Melendez, Maria. “Voices from the Margins.” Rev. of Walking Backwards, by Shirley Geok-lin Lim. The Women’s Review of Books 30.1 (2013): 27. PDF.

Mohammed A. Quayum. Interview with Shirley Geok-lin Lim. “Shirley Geok-lin Lim: An Interview.” MELUS 28.4 (2003): 83-100. PDF.

Patke, Rajeev and Philip Holden. Southeast Asian Writing in English. London and New York: Routledge, 2010.

Pennycook, Alastair. The Cultural Politics of English as an International Language. London and New York: Routledge, 1994.