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Sarong Party Girls

Paperback edition released 01/08/2019

by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Adult fiction Book Club Recommendations Books with reviews by our Reader Review Panel Debut Books of the Month Debuts Humorous fiction

LoveReading Expert Review of Sarong Party Girls

A dazzlingly immersive, energetic novel narrated by pushing-thirty Singaporean Jazzy, whose often comic quest to bag a rich Western husband shines a glaring light on sexual and racial exploitation.

Written in Singlish - “a tossed salad of the different languages and Chinese dialects that the country’s multiethnic population speaks” - this exhilarating novel follows brazen Jazzy’s mission to marry a wealthy “ang moh” (white) man. Almost 27, she warns her friends that ”if we don’t get married, engaged or even nail down a boyfriend soon—my god, we might as well go ahead and book a room at Singapore Casket… But luckily for us, we still have one big hope: ang moh guys”, because “if you wear a tight tight dress or short short skirt, these ang mohs will still steam over you”.

To this end, Jazzy’s life is an intense cycle of spending her days working for a newspaper editor who likes to “rubba rubba” his employees, followed by long nights at fancy clubs. Through her predatory attitude and enduring of a whole lot of objectification, this novel is razor-sharp on male entitlement, inequality, racial stereotypes and global capitalism. Indeed, Jazzy wasn’t always a Sarong Party Girl herself: “I would see women who are so obviously going after guys just for status and really look down on them. What kind of woman is so pathetic to chase after a husband just for the kind of handbag, car or condo they can buy them?” And then one night, it seems that enough is enough. Jazzy has an epiphany at dawn after a one hell of a wake-up call night out. What a fresh, funny and wildly acerbic treat this is.

Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.

Joanne Owen

Sarong Party Girls Synopsis

Just before her twenty-seventh birthday, Jazzy hatches a plan. Before the year is out, she and her best girlfriends will all have spectacular weddings to rich ang moh - Western expat - husbands, with Chanel babies to follow. As Jazzy - razor-sharp and vulgar, yet vulnerable - fervently pursues her quest to find a white husband, the contentious gender politics and class tensions thrumming beneath the shiny exterior of Singapore's glamorous nightclubs are revealed. Desperate to move up in Asia's financial and international capital, will Jazzy and her friends succeed? Vividly told in Singlish - colourful Singaporean English with its distinctive cadence and slang - Sarong Party Girls brilliantly captures the unique voice of a young, striving woman caught between worlds. With remarkable vibrancy and empathy, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan brings not only Jazzy, but her city of Singapore, to dazzling, dizzying life.

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Sarong Party Girls Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

A fascinating insight into modern-day Asia through the eye of a girl trying to make her mark on the world.

Jazzy is a twenty-something Singaporean girl who starts to question her life strategy when her best friend Sher gets married. Along with Fann and Imo, the girls had always believed that they would marry a foreigner and have a 'Chanel Baby' to give them the ultimate culture status. The fact that Sher has married a Singaporean man greatly upsets Jazzy, and she sets about plans for herself, Fann and Imo to marry Foreigners.
This is a funny book, written in Singlish, about modern day Singapore. It describes Jazzy's quest to find a decent man to marry while trying to establish her own place in the world, torn between ancient customs and cultures of her parents, and the bright lights and big money of the Western world. Jazzy tries to understand how women are seen as a commodity to rich men, to be used and discarded as they wish. She also decides to size up the enemy and explore the bars where Chinese and Korean girls work to pleasure foreign customers. There's a lot of sex, a whole lot of alcohol, but a lot of laughs and love in the book. A fascinating insight into modern-day Asia through the eye of a girl trying to make her mark on the world.

Nicola Kingswell

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan Press Reviews

very funny, irreverent, sharp-eyed debut . . . Jazzy's voice is the heart and soul of the book: tart, spirited, brazen, naive, knowing. - Slate

Darkly funny, Sarong Party Girls is one very determined woman's journey through modern Singapore, an intoxicating crossroads of culture, money and ambition. Her voice is utterly new and engaging, bringing her world to vivid life from the first sentence. -- Ayelet Waldman Scarlett O'Hara would have met her match in Jazeline Lim, the brazen, striving, yet ultimately vulnerable heroine of this bold debut novel. -- Julia Glass, National Book Award-winning author of THREE JUNES In Singapore, this satirical novel of predatory beauties would be regarded as deeply subversive - for the rest of us, and anyone familiar with life in that little island city-state, it is hilarious and original. -- Paul Theroux Utterly irresistible....I fell in love with Jazzy's fresh, exuberant voice and trenchant wit. In her debut novel, Tan is saying something profound and insightful about the place of women in our globalized, capitalized, interconnected world. -- Ruth Ozeki -

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781911630302
Publication date: 01/08/2019
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780062448972
Publication date: 01/06/2017
Format: Paperback

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About Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Born and raised in Singapore, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan is a New York-based journalist. She is also the author of A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family, and edited the fiction anthology Singapore Noir. She has been a staff writer at the Wall Street Journal, InStyle magazine and the Baltimore Sun.

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