Kebaya Tales: of Matriarchs, Maidens, Mistresses and Matchmakers


Lee Su Kim
October 2010. Marshall Cavendish Editions
Softcover, 19.8cm x 13.0cm, 202 pages
Colour Illustrations
ISBN 9789673035441


Kebaya Tales is a delightful collection of short stories teeming with fascinating and interesting characters, unexpected twists and turns, cultural rituals, beliefs and superstitions, and poignant events in the life stories of the Peranakans. The book brings you into another world, a world that many people know little about—the world of the babas and nyonyas, or the Straits Chinese, a colourful, flamboyant and unique community still in existence today in the former Straits Settlements of Malacca, Penang and Singapore.

Laced with humour and occasional gentle satire, this first-ever collection of short stories about the Straits Chinese are based on or inspired by real-life events which the author has collected from her nyonya mother, grandmother, bibiks and nyonyas.

Editorial Reviews

“A fascinating collection of tales bringing together the uniqueness of traditional Peranakan culture with universal human themes. By turns deeply moving and deliciously funny, these stories and the lives they portray go on reverberating in the mind long after reading them.” Professor Alan Maley, O.B.E., Leeds Metropolitan University, UK

“Mothers tell stories, daughters often forget them but not Lee Su Kim. She shows that Malaysian Peranakan mothers transmit stories with a distinct flavour. Through these bright and trenchant vignettes, Su Kim has heightened the uniqueness of her community. One might add that these enjoyable tales also add a more nuanced dimension to the art of being both Malaysian and Chinese.” Professor Wang Gungwu, National University of Singapore

“If there were such a word as “Nyonya-ness”, this feminine book would epitomise that quality.” Ilsa Sharp or pdf

About the Author

Lee Su Kim is an Associate Professor of English at the School of Language Studies and Linguistics, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Masters in Education from the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Houston. Su Kim is of Straits Chinese (Peranakan) parentage, and is a founder member and the first woman President of the Peranakan Baba Nyonya Association of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. She has authored a total of eight books including two bestsellers, Malaysian Flavours: Insights into Things Malaysian (2004) and Manglish: Malaysian English at its Wackiest (1998)

Table of Contents

About the Babas and Nyonyas
The House on Jonker Street
Dead Men Tell No Tales
Boxed-In Bibik
The Bachelor from Balik Pulau
The Breadman’s Bicycle
The Goddess and the Japanese Officer
My Old Baby
The Wedding Photo
Marry Me, Marianne
The Courtesan from Gion
A Promise is a Promise
Son Boy and Sisters
The Island
About the Author

Weight 250 g
Dimensions 19.8 × 13 × 1.3 cm

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