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International Programs
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-2026

Release: March 13, 2000

Singaporean writer returns as International Program's writer-in-residence

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- After attending the University of Iowa's world-renowned International Writing Program in 1996, distinguished Singaporean novelist Suchen Christine Lim returns to the UI campus as the International Programs' spring 2000 writer-in-residence.

Public libraries, schools and senior centers in Iowa are invited to participate in this University of Iowa outreach program that brings international writers such as Lim to communities throughout the state. UI International Programs is hosting Lim, a Chinese writer from multicultural Southeast Asia, who is available to conduct readings, lectures and workshops for libraries, schools and senior centers across Iowa now through mid May.

Following the way of the water, Lim lives and works in the spaces between the boundaries drawn by society. She is a curriculum specialist by day, a writer by night and a beachcomber on the weekends.

She grew up on both sides of the causeway which separates the island of Singapore from Malaysia. A third-generation descendant of illiterate Chinese immigrants, Lim describes herself as a Southeast Asian writer. When she was 15, her family left Malaysia and moved to Singapore where she was sent to the convent for her English education. She graduated from the University of Singapore and taught in a college for some years before writing fiction.

Lim's first novel, "Ricebowl" was published in 1984; in 1986, she co-authored a prize-winning short play, "The Amah: a Portrait in Black and White." Her second novel, "Gift from the Gods," appeared in 1990, and in 1992 she was the first writer to receive the Singapore Literature Prize for her third novel, "Fistful of Colours." While studying for her post-graduate diploma in applied linguistics, she co-edited a literature series for secondary schools. She is presently a curriculum specialist in the Singapore Ministry of Education, and she has also written teaching materials and several children's stories. Lim attended the University of Iowa International Writing Program in 1996 on a Fulbright grant through the Council for International Exchange of Scholars.

"It's great to be back in the state with my fellow 'Iowans,' " says Lim. "I look forward to, not only the opportunity to write, but I think I have something to contribute by just being myself - being an atypical Asian and also talking about Southeast Asian Chinese. We are very different from mainland Chinese or Chinese people from Taiwan, Hong Kong or Asian Americans. I can bring out a lot of the kind of diversity and the similarities people share while also conveying that multiculturalism is empowerment. I look forward to the interaction and exchange of ideas, and I think both sides are empowered and enriched when this happens."

Lim is available to conduct workshops and readings on a variety of topics, including, "Writing for Our Grandchildren," "Repainting our Cultural Landscape - From White and Black to Multi-hues," "Life and Culture in Singapore," "David Dancing with Goliath - Singapore and the United States," "Growing up in Multiple Cultural Spaces" and "Writers, Language, and the Collective Memory." She will be in Iowa through May.

"We are thrilled to have Suchen at the University of Iowa as our writer-in-residence," says Connie Noren, International Programs' assistant director of cross-cultural, programming and outreach. "With her special blend of warmth and intelligence, Suchen will definitely reach out to audiences of all ages and educate, entertain and enlighten them through her readings."

Lim's three-month writer-in-residence program is funded by the Stanley Foundation-UI Support Organization, a Title VI National Resource Center grant from the U.S. Department of Education and International Programs at the University of Iowa. Lim is based in the International Center on the UI campus during her writer-in-residency stint.

For those who are interested in having Lim conduct a workshop or reading, please contact Connie Noren, International Programs, at (319) 335-0345.

(Editors: Interviews with Lim can be arranged by calling Lois Gray at (319) 335-2026 or Lim at (319) 353-2825. For broadcast media, her name is pronounced /SOO chen/ /lim/. )

Following is her itinerary of confirmed outreach presentations if you wish to do a story or capture footage for broadcast:

March 22: 1:30 p.m., Horn Elementary, Iowa City - Kindergarten classes - Readings from Suchen's children's books

March 28: 9 and 9:30 a.m., Coralville Central, Coralville - Kindergarten classes - Readings from Suchen's children's books

March 28: 10:20 and 10:50 a.m., Kirkwood Elementary, Coralville - Kindergarten classes - Reading from Suchen's children's books

April 3: 1:30 -3:00 p.m., Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center - Presentation - "Life and Culture in Singapore"

April 4: 7 p.m., Oaknoll Retirement Residence - Readings from Suchen's novels

April 10: noon -1:00 p.m., International Mondays at the International Center - Presentation - "Writing Across Race, Language, and Culture in a Multi-Racial Society, the Singapore Novelist Writing in English."

April 17: 7 p.m., West Liberty Library - Presentation - "Multiple Cultural Spaces"

April 26: 7 p.m., Cole Library at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon (in conjunction with the Lisbon Library) - Presentation - "Being a Writer in Singapore" - also some readings from Suchen's novels

April 28: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center - workshop - "Writing for Our Grandchildren"

May 10: 8:00 p.m., Prairie Lights Bookstore (Iowa City) - Readings from Suchen's novels