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Select Books' owner Lena Lim: Putting S-E Asia works on global bookshelf

Published on Apr 19, 2014 11:53 AM

As a schoolgirl in the 1950s, Lena Lim read Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy and learnt about British colonial history. When she graduated, a job in the library of then University of Malaya led her to discover the works of South-east Asian scholars and writers.

In turn, it led her to open Select Books in 1976, a shop with books about South-east Asia for universities and researchers here and in the West. Now 76, Mrs Lim, who was also founding president of the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), tells Goh Chin Lian about her pioneering effort to reverse the knowledge flow, to go from the East to the West.

What was it in your upbringing that led you to focus on South-east Asia?

I was bred in Singapore but born in Manila because my father, a diplomat for the Chinese government, was posted there.

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