18 July 2016

Review #488: Sarong Party Girls: A Novel by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates and guys are just people to have fun with.”

----Candace Bushnell

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, a Singaporean author, pens a hilarious and entertaining chick-lit novel, Sarong Party Girls: A Novel that narrates the story of four SPGs (Sarong Party Girls) who are in their late twenties and decides that it is time to get married to some rich Ang Moh guys to rise up the ladder of social status in their society. Narrated in typical Singaporean English, this book is an absolute funny jay ride through glittery parties, one-night stands, dating hot Ang Mohs, designer apparels and shoes in Singapore.


A sensational and utterly engaging novel—Breakfast at Tiffany’s set in modern Asia—about a young woman’s rise in the glitzy, moneyed city of Singapore, where old traditions clash with heady modern materialism

On the edge of twenty-seven, Jazzy hatches a plan for her and her best girlfriends: Sher, Imo, and Fann. Before the year is out, these Sarong Party Girls will all have spectacular weddings to expat ang moh—Caucasian—husbands, with Chanel babies (half-white children—the ultimate status symbol) quickly to follow.

Razor-sharp, spunky, and cheerfully brand-obsessed, Jazzy is a woman who plays to win. As she fervently pursues her quest to find the right husband, this driven yet tenderly vulnerable gold digger reveals the contentious gender politics and class tensions thrumming beneath the shiny exterior of Singapore’s glamorous nightclubs and busy streets, its grubby wet markets and crowded hawker centers. Moving through her colorful, stratified world, she realizes she cannot ignore the troubling incongruity of new money and old-world attitudes that threatens to crush her dreams. Can Jazzy use her cunning and good looks to rise up the ladder in Asia’s international capital?

Vividly told in Singlish—colorful Singaporean English with its distinctive cadence and slang—Sarong Party Girls brilliantly captures the unique voice of this 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.

Jazzy, a twenty seven year old woman, who works as an assistant, loves to party with her three best friends, Sher, Imo, and Fann and also loves to date and hang out with Ang Moh guys. But Jazzy realizes that they are not getting younger and they need to settle down with rich men to climb up the social status ladder, and thus Jazzy hatches a plan for four of the girls to get married to some Ang Moh guy by the end of the month. There begins Jazzy's quest to find a rich husband amidst the smell of new money rolling into Singapore, the glitzy disco lights of the newly opened nightclubs, the crisp new smell of designer clothes, cars and shoes and the busy, crowed streets of both old and new Singapore.

The book so good good, that the readers get steam while reading. I loved it, lah, it so fun fun.. That's Singlish (Singaporean English) and the whole book i written in this dialect, although, trust me, you won't once feel the need to open a dictionary or a translator or run a grammar check while reading the book. And the book is so excellent and humorous, that I read it cover-to-cover. The journey of Jazzy and her girls, is nowhere close to Carrie Bradshaw and her girls, instead it is fast, exciting, enlightening as well as highly entertaining. For me, this book, turned out to be such a fun as well as satisfying read. Although my only disappointment lies in the fact that the story ended too soon, and I would have love to know what happens next with Jazzy's life.

The author's writing style is articulate and crisp and is laced with funny anecdotes and quick emotions. The narrative, as I've already mentioned before, that it is in local dialect, yet the readers won't find it any trouble to comprehend it, moreover, its really hilarious, fun and free-flowing. The pacing of the book is really fast as right from the very start, the readers will find themselves losing themselves into the heart of this fun ride. The book is an addictive read and within no time, the readers will be instantly glued to the pages of this book till the very last page.

The characters from the book are very much real and authentic and the author has smartly developed them with their flaws, dreams, aspirations, and with that cunning gold-digging attitude. The main character, Jazzy, is a really bright an honest character, whose demeanor is perfectly apt with any modern day highly-determined Singaporean girl. Through Jazzy, the readers can taste the bold and dazzling side of Singapore nightlife, where people are either money-minded or scheming to be rich. The rest of the characters are also very much amusing, imperfect yet interesting. They will keep the readers engaged to the story line.

The author has vividly portrayed and captured the Singaporean lifestyle through this story, where the readers might be shocked to see how the women of this city spend their nights by frolicking in the arms and warming up the beds of rich men. The author's portrait of this side of Singapore where culture clash with the modern Asian lifestyle of party, drinking and drugs and ample of one-night stands, is quite striking and extremely authentic. And the readers will find themselves tapping away their feet or taking a tequila shot or drowning in a large glass of Chivas or Long Island Iced tea inside some dimly neon lit night club, where men are freely rubbing themselves on the skins of skimpily-dressed women. Not only that, the author has arrested even the tiny details of this glorifying cityscape from its busy streets filled with fast cars to the tall storeyed sky-rise buildings to the dark , shady streets to the generation gap to the local people, beautifully.

In a nutshell, this contemporary Singaporean tale is high on drama, risky adventures, friendships and sex and I bet, the readers will be laughing out loud while reading it.

Verdict: A delectable, entertaining as well as an eye-catchy tale.

Courtesy: Thanks to the author, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan's, publicist, for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.

Author Info:
Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan is a New York City-based food and fashion writer whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, InStyle, Marie Claire, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Family Circle, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, and many other outlets.
She is a regular contributor to the Atlantic Food Channel. Born and raised in Singapore, Tan graduated from Northwestern University and completed two residencies at Yaddo, the artists colony. A Tiger in the Kitchen is her first book.
Visit her here

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