Lim Hung Chang (Lin Gao)

by Goh, Yu Mei

Lim Hung Chang (林汉精 ; b. 17 October 1949, Singapore– ), better known by his pseudonym Lin Gao (林高), is one of the leading figures in the Chinese literary scene in Singapore.1 He has used various pen names, such as Lin Yifei (林一飞), Sanmuzi (三木子) and Lin Jingshan (林静山), but is most well-known by the name Lin Gao.2 He began writing non-fiction prose (散文) in the 1970s, ventured into short stories (微型小说) in the 1980s, and from the 2000s onwards, literary criticism and poetry.3 While much of Lim’s work was published in the literary supplements of local newspapers and literary magazines, he has also published overseas, especially in the 1990s.4 In 2015, he was awarded the Cultural Medallion in recognition of his contributions to Chinese literature in Singapore.5

Education and teaching career
Lim grew up in Cheng San village (located in present-day Ang Mo Kio New Town) in Singapore. He studied in Kong Yiong Primary School, and upon graduation, pursued secondary education in Kong Yiong High School around the mid-1960s. Thereafter, Lim completed pre-university studies in Dunman Government Chinese Middle School (now Dunman High School), graduating in 1969. Subsequently, financial considerations led him to enrol in the Teachers’ Training College (now National Institute of Education, Singapore) in 1970 instead of furthering his studies at Nanyang University.6 He graduated from the Teachers’ Training College (TTC) in 1972. Lim completed National Service after that. He then started teaching in Thomson Secondary School (德新中学, now North Vista Secondary School) in 1975.7

In 1981, Lim received a government scholarship, under which he studied Chinese literature at National Taiwan University. He considered this a milestone in his life. The exposure to and study of various literary and classical texts in Taiwan influenced his literary and philosophical views greatly. He was particularly interested in Tao Yuan Ming (陶渊明), a poet from the Eastern Jin dynasty, and had wanted to write a paper about him.8 This was postponed as Lim was busy with his work and other commitments. Nonetheless, Lim wrote about Tao for his Master’s degree at the Central China Normal University, which conferred him the degree in 2003.9

Between 1975 and 2012, Lim taught at different schools, including Thomson Secondary School, Tampines Junior College, Jurong Junior College and Raffles Junior College (now Raffles Institution). He was a curriculum specialist writer at the Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore from 1985 to 1993.10

Literary career
1970s
Lim became active in the literary scene in the 1970s, writing mainly non-fiction prose.11 He was studying at the Teacher’s Training College (TTC) when he began publishing his work in The Springs and Autumns of the Campus (学府春秋), Nanyang Siang Pau’s (南洋商报) literary supplement which featured the work of tertiary students. This was edited by Xie Ke (谢克), a newspaper editor and local writer.

During Lim’s days at TTC, he met the local poet Xin Bai (辛白). At that time, Xin Bai had published his poem in New Era (新年代), another literary supplement of Nanyang Siang Pau which was also edited by Xie Ke. Influenced by his peers, and motivated by his own interest in writing, Lim began publishing his work in literary supplements. Lim was very encouraged when Xie Ke chose one of his pieces intended for The Springs and Autumns of the Campus to be featured in New Era.12

While teaching at Thomson Secondary School, Lim befriended Cai Xin (蔡欣), a colleague as well as an established poet. Lim considered this period to be an important time during which he accumulated literary experiences. Cai Xin introduced Lim to other writers, such as Li Xiang (李向) and Lin Zhen (林臻). It was also with Cai Xin’s help that Lim published his second book, Collection of Commonplace Remarks  (《抛砖集》) with Lianhe Wenxue Publishing (联合文学出版社).13

1980s and after
Lim’s undergraduate years at the National Taiwan University had a profound influence on his writing. It was there that he met Professor Ye Heng Jun, who taught him about Cao Xueqin’s (曹雪芹) Chinese novel, Dream of the Red Chamber (《红楼梦》), with much enthusiasm. Lim admired the seriousness, discipline and sincerity Cao exhibited in his writing, as well as the world view encompassed in the novel. To Lim, Dream of the Red Chamber and Professor Ye had the greatest influence on his literary work.14

After Lim returned to Singapore, he started to write longer reflective pieces of non-fiction prose in the early 1990s. In an interview, he expressed that he had higher expectations of his writing and had more to write about. He also believed that producing longer works was a necessary part of fulfilling the demands of writing as an artform.  He further shared that his use of refined language was probably a result of his exposure to classical Chinese literature during his undergraduate studies.15

From the mid-1980s onwards, Lim ventured into different genres. He wrote short stories, which was a popular genre in the mid-1980s. In 2000, he wrote literary criticism when he was invited to submit opinion pieces analysing selected titles featured in special issues on short stories in the literary supplement City of Literature and Arts (文艺城). The editor subsequently engaged him to contribute on a monthly basis.16

Lim thought that he was not adept at writing poetry, but picked it up after he turned 60.17

Selected residencies and awards
In 2013, Lim was a writer-in-residence under the TOJI Cultural Residency for Singapore Writers programme jointly organised by the National Arts Council (Singapore) and TOJI Cultural Foundation (South Korea).18 In 2014, he won the Singapore Literature Prize for Chinese Fiction for his book, Short Stories by Lin Gao (《林高微型小说》). In recognition of his contributions to Chinese literature in Singapore, he was awarded the Cultural Medallion in 2015.19

Further contributions
Lim joined the Singapore Association of Writers in the early 1990s. He was a member of the Executive Committee from 1992 to 1998 and Vice-President from 1998 to 2000.20 During his appointment, he initiated three reading sessions which were open to the general public. These focused on discussing noteworthy titles in Chinese literature. Lim also edited the association’s publications, namely a quarterly magazine about short stories, and two serials for children. In addition, he coordinated the publishing of a new literary periodical created by a group of younger writers.21

Beyond his work for the association, Lim also shares his knowledge and values as a writer through workshops and programmes. For instance, he ran a Chinese short story writing workshop held in conjunction with the Golden Point Award in Singapore in 2013. He was also a speaker at Words Go Round 2015 – a local platform encouraging students and teachers to interact with writers in the run-up to the Singapore Writers Festival.22 Currently, he serves as Invited Councilor at the Singapore Association of Writers.23

Awards
2014: Singapore Literature Prize for Chinese Fiction24
2015:
Cultural Medallion, Singapore25


Selected literary works
1974: 《不照镜子的人》 (The man with no reflection)
1978: 《抛砖集》 (Collection of commonplace remarks)
1991: 《猫的命运》 (The cat’s fate)
1992: 《往山中走去》 (To the hills)
1995: 《林高文集》 (A collection of Lin Gao’s writings)
1997: 《笼子里的心》 (The caged heart)
2000: 《被追逐的滋味:林高散文》 (The feeling of being chased)
2003: 《数字拼合人生》 (Life is made of numbers)
2004: 《蛇的故事》 (The story of the snake)
2009: 《仙人掌散文系列:林高卷》 (Cactus non-fiction prose series: Volume on Lin Gao)
2012: 《倚窗阅读:评论集》 (Reading by the window)
2013: 《林高微型小说》 (Short stories by Lin Gao)
2013: 《蜥蜴回家了吗?》 (Has the lizard gone home?)
2015: 《遇见诗:林高读19新加坡诗人》 (Poetic encounter by Lin Gao)
2017: 《记得》 (Remember)
2017: 《框起人间事:林高极短篇》 (Framing the worldly matters: Flash fiction by Lin Gao)
2019: 《孤独瞭望 : 英培安小说世界》 (Vision in solitude: The literary world of Yeng Pway Ngon)



Author
Goh Yu Mei



References
1.
Lye, S. C. (Interviewer). (2008, June 10). Oral history interview with Lim Hung Chang@Lin Gao [MP3 recording no. 003324/07/01]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline; National Arts Council. (2015). Cultural Medallion 2015: Lim Hung Chang (Lin Gao). Retrieved 2020, September 10  from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/naccorp/dam/jcr:52b64dc6-e054-42c4-a256-b676c8405525
2.
Lye, S. C. (Interviewer). (2008, June 19). Oral history interview with Lim Hung Chang@Lin Gao [MP3 recording no. 003324/07/03]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline
3. 林高 [Lin Gao]. (2015). In 成君主编 [Cheng Jun (Ed.).]. 《新华文学50年当代作家资料汇编(1965年 – 2015年)》[Curriculum-vitae of Singapore contemporary Chinese writers from 1965-2015]. 新加坡:新加坡文艺协会, p. 259. (Call no.: RSING Chinese C810.08 CUR); Lye, S. C. (Interviewer). (2008, June 10). Oral history interview with Lim Hung Chang@Lin Gao [MP3 recording no. 003324/07/02]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline; 陈宇昕、周雁冰、邓华贵 [Chen, Y. X., Zhou, Y. B., Deng, H. G.]. (2015, October 17). 访2015新加坡文化奖4得主 向辛勤的文化播种人致敬 [Interview with four Cultural Medallion recipients. Paying tribute to the diligent cultural practitioners].联合早报. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: https://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/

4. Lye, S. C. (Interviewer). (2008, June 19). Oral history interview with Lim Hung Chang@Lin Gao [MP3 recording no. 003324/07/03]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline
5.
National Arts Council. (2015, October 23). 11 of Singapore’s artists honoured with Cultural Medallion, Young Artist Award 2015. [Press release]. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: https://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
6.
Lye, S. C. (Interviewer). (2008, June 10). Oral history interview with Lim Hung Chang@Lin Gao [MP3 recording no. 003324/07/01]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline; 《新加坡德明政府华文中学 1969》 [Dunman Government Chinese Middle School, Singapore, 1969]. 新加坡:毕业特刊筹委会. (Call no.: RCLOS Chinese 373.5957 DMGCMS)
7.
Lye, S. C. (Interviewer). (2008, June 10). Oral history interview with Lim Hung Chang@Lin Gao [MP3 recording no. 003324/07/02]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline
8.
Lye, S. C. (Interviewer). (2008, June 10). Oral history interview with Lim Hung Chang@Lin Gao [MP3 recording no. 003324/07/02]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline
9.
Lye, S. C. (Interviewer). (2008, June 10). Oral history interview with Lim Hung Chang@Lin Gao [MP3 recording no. 003324/07/02]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline; 林高 [Lin Gao]. (2015). In 成君主编 [Cheng Jun (Ed.).]. 《新华文学50年当代作家资料汇编(1965年–2015年)》[Curriculum-vitae of Singapore contemporary Chinese writers from 1965–2015]. 新加坡:新加坡文艺协会, p. 259. (Call no.: RSING Chinese C810.08 CUR)
10.
National Arts Council. (2015). Cultural Medallion 2015: Lim Hung Chang (Lin Gao). Retrieved 2020, September 10 from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/naccorp/dam/jcr:52b64dc6-e054-42c4-a256-b676c8405525; Lee, J. X. (2015, October 17). Nourishing readers with his short stories. The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; 林高 [Lin Gao]. (2015). In 成君主编 [Cheng Jun (Ed.).]. 《新华文学50年当代作家资料汇编(1965年–2015年)》[Curriculum-vitae of Singapore contemporary Chinese writers from 1965–2015]. 新加坡:新加坡文艺协会, p. 259. (Call no.: RSING Chinese C810.08 CUR)
11.
林高 [Lin Gao]. (2015). In 成君主编 [Cheng Jun (Ed.).]. 《新华文学50年当代作家资料汇编(1965年–2015年)》[Curriculum-vitae of Singapore contemporary Chinese writers from 1965–2015]. 新加坡:新加坡文艺协会, p. 259. (Call no.: RSING Chinese C810.08 CUR)
12.
Lye, S. C. (Interviewer). (2008, June 10). Oral history interview with Lim Hung Chang@Lin Gao [MP3 recording no. 003324/07/01]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline
13.
Lye, S. C. (Interviewer). (2008, June 10). Oral history interview with Lim Hung Chang@Lin Gao [MP3 recording no. 003324/07/02]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline
14.
Lee, J. X. (2015, October 17). Nourishing readers with his short stories. The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15.
Lye, S. C. (Interviewer). (2008, June 10). Oral history interview with Lim Hung Chang@Lin Gao [MP3 recording no. 003324/07/02]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline
16.
Lye, S. C. (Interviewer). (2008, June 10). Oral history interview with Lim Hung Chang@Lin Gao [MP3 recording no. 003324/07/02]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline
17.
陈宇昕、周雁冰、邓华贵 [Chen, Y. X., Zhou, Y. B., Deng, H. G.]. (2015, October 17). 访2015新加坡文化奖4得主 向辛勤的文化播种人致敬 [Interview with four Cultural Medallion recipients. Paying tribute to the diligent cultural practitioners]. 联合早报 . Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: https://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
18.
National Arts Council. (2015). Cultural Medallion 2015: Lim Hung Chang (Lin Gao). Retrieved 2020, September 10 from National Arts Council website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/naccorp/dam/jcr:52b64dc6-e054-42c4-a256-b676c8405525 
19.
National Arts Council. (2015, October 23). 11 of Singapore’s artists honoured with Cultural Medallion, Young Artist Award 2015. [Press release]. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: https://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
20.
Lye, S. C. (Interviewer). (2008, December 18). Oral history interview with Lim Hung Chang@Lin Gao [MP3 recording no. 003324/07/04]. Retrieved 2020, September 10 from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline; National Arts Council. (2015). Cultural Medallion 2015: Lim Hung Chang (Lin Gao). Retrieved 2020, September 10 from National Arts Council’s website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/naccorp/dam/jcr:52b64dc6-e054-42c4-a256-b676c8405525
21.
Lye, S. C. (Interviewer). (2008, December 18). Oral history interview with Lim Hung Chang@Lin Gao [MP3 recording no. 003324/07/04]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline
22.
National Arts Council. (2015). Cultural Medallion 2015: Lim Hung Chang (Lin Gao). Retrieved 2020, September 10 from National Arts Council’s website: https://www.nac.gov.sg/naccorp/dam/jcr:52b64dc6-e054-42c4-a256-b676c8405525
23.
新加坡作家协会 [Singapore Association of Writers]. (2018). 2018–2020年度理事会 [Executive Committee 2018–2020]. Retrieved 2020, May 26 from Singapore Association of Writers website: http://www.singaporewriters.org.sg/management.html
24.
Singapore Book Council. (2020). Singapore Literature Prize. Retrieved 2020, April 9 from Singapore Book Council website: https://bookcouncil.sg/awards/singapore-literature-prize
25.
Lee, J. X. (2015, October 17). Four awarded Cultural Medallion. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at September 2020 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Lin, Gao, 1949-
Authors, Chinese--Singapore
Personalities>>Biographies>>Authors
Cultural Medallion Recipients (Literature)
Arts>>Literature>>Chinese Literature
Chinese writers

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