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Lane With No Name: Memoirs and Poems of a Malaysian-Chinese Girlhood

Hilary Tham
ISBN: 978-0-89410-830-3
ISBN: 978-0-89410-831-0
1997/224 pages/LC: 96-12899

"Lane With No Name provides scholars of Southeast Asian studies with a valuable source for investigations into the postcolonial subject, the possibilities of cultural hybridity, and the question of how Malaysian writers relate to the English language within historical context of postcolonial Malaysian nationalism."—Crossroads: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Southeast Asian Studies

"This book is like nothing else you will ever read, the clear voice speaking out of tradition and its inheritance of a true multi-cultural existence."—Paterson Literary Criticism


Hilary Tham's memoirs reveal the many images, cultures, myths, and memories out of which her poetry has emerged. Tham recalls a life of many textures: her Chinese ancestry, her family's life in Malaysia, her early education and conversion to Christianity, her university studies, marriage to a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, and more. Amidst memories of her raffish father and inspired, overworked mother are stories of monkey raids, egg noodles, a lascivious Buddhist monk, marriages, funerals, neighbors—and the breaching of taboos.

The poems interspersed in the text and the "family album" photographs enrich this narrative of a life in which poetry, passion, warmth, stubbornness, community, and clarity of thought all play leading roles.


Hilary Tham, now deceased, was born in Kelang, Malaysia. She was at various times been a tutor to princesses, an insurance-claims reviewer, and vice-president of her synagogue, but she was always a poet. Published in Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, England, Israel, and the United States, she authored No Gods Today (1969), Paper Boats (1987), Bad Names for Wo- men (1989), Tigerbone Wine (1992), and Men and Other Strange Myths (1994).