Penguin Michael Joseph pre-empts Lim's 'poetic' memoir of family secrets

Penguin Michael Joseph pre-empts Lim's 'poetic' memoir of family secrets

Teresa Lim’s multi-generational memoir about a long-buried family tragedy set against the Second World War in Singapore has gone to Penguin Michael Joseph. 

Commissioning editor Ariel Pakier acquired world rights for The Interpreter’s Daughter by Teresa Lim from Rowan Lawton at the Soho Agency in a pre-empt. The book will be published by Penguin Michael Joseph in hardback, e-book, and audio in June 2022. 

The Interpreter’s Daughter is billed by the publisher as “a beautiful, sweeping, multigenerational memoir of Lim’s extraordinary family”.

Its blurb reads: “It was a journey of discovery set in motion by her fascination with an old photograph and led to her uncovering the remarkable life of her great aunt and her world of sworn spinsters, ghost husbands and the working-class feminists of 19th-century south China. But to recover her great aunt’s past, Lim must get to know her family, and understand the times and circumstances in which they lived. A personal and visceral history, the book follows Lim’s family through the momentous and forgotten conflicts that would lead to the Second World War in Singapore and ultimately a long-buried family tragedy.” 

Lim said: “I learned that when families tell stories, what they leave out re-defines what they keep in. With my family, these were not secrets intentionally withheld. Just truths too painful to confront. This family story begins with a recipe and ends with an unnecessary death. In between there are forgotten wars, a lost feminist movement, and a woman whose own family chose not to remember her: yet it is for my convention-defying great-aunt that I wrote this book.” 

“It is rare to come across a book that immediately feels both timely and timeless,” Pakier said. “Teresa Lim shows us history is alive and context is nearly everything. The story unfolds like a season of 'This is Us', with family story lines that fit seamlessly together even when happening decades, and sometimes centuries apart. One decision can change future generation’s fate in an instant.” 

She added: "One decision made thousands of miles away can shape a people and culture’s future. You can’t help but get lost in Teresa’s poetic turns of phrase, the sights, smells, sounds, tastes of Singapore. Teresa is a rare talent and has written what I know is a classic in the making."