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Lian Gouw

Writer / See Roots

Born Jakarta, currently resides in San Mateo, California
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Lian’s short stories and poems have appeared in Quietus Magazine, Writing for our Lives, Voices and Visions, The Highland’s Low Down and Reflections. Her Predicament, an earlier version of the first chapter of her novel, Only A Girl, was included in the 2006 anthology of the SF Writers Conference, Building Bridges from Writers to Readers.

In her writing, Lian explores themes of human relationships, connection with animals, and fable-like fantasy. She is particularly interested in the lives and struggles of women.1

Her family adhered to strict Chinese traditions inside the home and did not allow her to play with children who might have been attending the Dutch-Chinese school rather than the all-Dutch school she attended. Thus books and blank pages of notebooks became her best friends.

In their zeal to become westernized, the Gouw family encouraged the Dutch habit of reading for pleasure and boasted about Lian’s early accomplishments in penmanship which came in the form of winning writing contests and having pieces published in the school and local newspaper.

The escalating political unrest of WWII followed by the Indonesian Revolution shifted her family’s focus from making sure that she became an independent, professional woman, to making sure that she remained safe and honorable. This led to her marriage and emigration to America which put a halt to her hope to enter the workforce as a writer. After living in a different country and speaking a second language for nearly four decades, Gouw dedicated herself again to write and discovered that she now wrote most naturally in English rather than in Dutch.

She tells us, “As the characters of Only A Girl one by one stepped forward, I started to write about their lives; first as separate stories then weaving these together into the bigger work.” Seven years and four revisions later, Only A Girl was published by Publish America.2

  1. Lian Gouw 

  2. Dalang Publishing 


What Media Say

Publisher brings Indonesian literature to light by Leslie Katz — San Francisco Examiner (Apr 24, 2014)

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