Lee Su Kim’s short stories have been described as: “Pure reading pleasure from start to finish…bitter-sweet, light and delicate as the kebaya, spiced with the tang of sambal belachan” - The Edge.
A sixth generation nyonya from Kuala Lumpur with maternal links to the Penang Peranakans and paternal links to the Malaccan Baba and Nyonya community, Su Kim was born and grew up in Kuala Lumpur. She was educated at the Bukit Bintang Girls’ School and went to University Malaya, Kuala Lumpur to read for a degree in English Literature at the English Department, UM. She started her teaching career as an English Language teacher in rural Kelantan before returning to KL to pursue her Masters in Education at University of Malaya whilst working as an English language teacher at UKM.
Her love for writing saw her publishing not just academic articles but fiction and nonfiction as well. She is the author of a much loved trilogy of short stories on the Peranakan Babas and Nyonyas: Kebaya Tales: Of Matriarchs, Maidens, Mistresses and Matchmakers, Sarong Secrets: Of Love, Loss and Longing and Manek Mischiefs: Of Patriarchs, Playboys and Paramours. Kebaya Tales won First prize in the Popular-Star Readers’ Choice Awards 2011 (Fiction).
Su Kim’s nonfiction work includes her bestselling books, Malaysian Flavours: Insights into Things Malaysian and Manglish: Malaysian English at its Wackiest, both have sold more than 10,000 copies. During her stay in Texas, where she did her doctoral degree, she wrote A Nyonya In Texas: Insights of a Straits Chinese Woman in the Lone Star State, a hilarious take on cross-cultural encounters between east and west. A new edition of Manglish, 20 years after the first edition, will be published in 2019, co-authored with Stephen J. Hall.
Su Kim was Associate Professor of English Language Studies at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia where she lectured, supervised and researched for more than 30 years. She holds a Doctorate in Education from the University of Houston, a Masters and Diploma in Education and a Bachelors of Arts in English from University Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. Her doctoral dissertation explored the multiple identities and identity constructions of non-native English language speakers. She has published widely on language, culture and identity issues in national and international journals, as well as has written textbooks, resource books and short stories for secondary and tertiary level. She is the Chief Editor of Border Crossings: Moving between Language and Cultural Framework. She was also a newspaper columnist, writing a fortnightly column titled Malaysian Flavours for The Star, a national English newspaper from 1993-1996.
Active in heritage and culture advocacy, Su Kim is a founding member and the Founding President of the Peranakan Baba Nyonya Association of Kuala Lumpur & Selangor (PPBNKLS). As the President of the Protem committee (2005-2008) and then as the first President of PPBNKLS (2008-2014), she was involved actively in promoting the baba nyonya culture and heritage and in forging links with the various Peranakan associations in the region. She was the Chairperson of the Organizing Committee of the Inaugural 26th Baba Nyonya International Convention 2013, held for the first time in Kuala Lumpur. She is also a public speaker and has given many talks, readings and presentations all over the world. An invited speaker at the Ubud Writers and Readers’ Festival and the Singapore Writers festivals, she has a Youtube video sharing her love for writing and her nyonya heritage at TED X Petaling Street 2017