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A brilliant and utterly engaging novel—Emma 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 weddin A brilliant and utterly engaging novel—Emma 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 rich ang moh—Western expat—husbands, with Chanel babies (the cutest status symbols of all) quickly to follow. Razor-sharp, spunky, and vulgarly brand-obsessed, Jazzy is a determined woman who doesn't lose. As she fervently pursues her quest to find a white husband, this bombastic 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 seedy hawker centers. Moving through her colorful, stratified world, she realizes she cannot ignore the troubling incongruity of new money and old-world attitudes which threaten to crush her dreams. Desperate to move up in Asia’s financial and international capital, will Jazzy and her friends succeed? 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 Tan brings not only Jazzy, but her city of Singapore, to dazzling, dizzying life.


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A brilliant and utterly engaging novel—Emma 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 weddin A brilliant and utterly engaging novel—Emma 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 rich ang moh—Western expat—husbands, with Chanel babies (the cutest status symbols of all) quickly to follow. Razor-sharp, spunky, and vulgarly brand-obsessed, Jazzy is a determined woman who doesn't lose. As she fervently pursues her quest to find a white husband, this bombastic 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 seedy hawker centers. Moving through her colorful, stratified world, she realizes she cannot ignore the troubling incongruity of new money and old-world attitudes which threaten to crush her dreams. Desperate to move up in Asia’s financial and international capital, will Jazzy and her friends succeed? 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 Tan brings not only Jazzy, but her city of Singapore, to dazzling, dizzying life.

30 review for Sarong Party Girls

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paromjit

    Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan writes a remarkably illuminating novel set in Singapore that exposes the clash between the old traditional culture and the new, more materialistic moneyed one. Our guide to this is the almost 27 year old Jazzy, who along with her girlfriends, Sher, Imo and Fann are the eponymous Sarong Party Girls with attitude. For a decade, they have been the girls who wanna have fun, dancing, drinking, picking up men, usually rich, white, western, ex-pats, in the city's bars and clubs, a li Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan writes a remarkably illuminating novel set in Singapore that exposes the clash between the old traditional culture and the new, more materialistic moneyed one. Our guide to this is the almost 27 year old Jazzy, who along with her girlfriends, Sher, Imo and Fann are the eponymous Sarong Party Girls with attitude. For a decade, they have been the girls who wanna have fun, dancing, drinking, picking up men, usually rich, white, western, ex-pats, in the city's bars and clubs, a lifestyle largely funded by their rich Singaporean friend, the married Louis. However, Jazzy is feeling the pressure of getting older in a culture where at the age of 28 a woman is considered to be over the hill, personally and professionally. Jazzy feels the need to get serious, and for the girls to snag a white ex-pat as a husband who can provide them a way out of the country and the lifestyle they aspire to, with designer products, maids, all consolidated with a 'Chanel baby'. In a narrative composed of Singlish, a patois that reflects Singapore's history, we follow Jazzy's, often hilarious, vividly eye opening quest to achieve her goal. It may be tempting to judge the apparently vulgar and shallow Jazzy, but as the story develops, we are to learn what contributed to making her the woman she is today. Jazzy involves the girls in a strategy of learning what it takes to bag the man of their dreams, incorporating looking at why the Chinese girls have been more successful than local women in this arena, why Japanese girls are more attractive to men and other avenues of inquiry. This brings Jazzy into contact with the seedier world of brothels and particular clubs, where young girls play up their schoolgirl persona for unscrupulous contemptible men with jaded sexual appetites. This is a world that leaves Jazzy deeply uncomfortable, and she begins to become aware that even women who have what she so wants are unlikely to be happy. The rich white expat men portrayed really are scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to the male gender with their morally bankrupt and corrupt lives, and even Louis is to be found wanting when it comes to being a friend. As Jazzy's life begins to be hit by a number of shocks, how will she respond? The author does a marvellous job in characterisation when it comes to Jazzy and her friends, she uses them as effective mechanisms to display the misogyny, sexism, overt discrimination and sexual exploitation milieu that women face in Singapore. The economic inequalities culminate in a culture of entitlement amongst rich and powerful men that precludes the concept of decency, never to be held to account for their behaviour. Jazzy's closest friend, the bright Sher, is deemed beyond the pale by Jazzy after having broken their code in her choice of husband. Will their friendship survive? The novel is promoted as a Asian interpretation of Emma, and there are certainly elements that resonate with this in the narrative. This is a wonderful read, where the reader can quickly and easily immerse themselves in the Singlish patois. Jazzy is a great creation and the character development that follows in the sizzling storyline is done with style, skill and verve. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Atlantic Books for an ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Melindam

    Very hard to shelve. Where should it go? A comedy of manners? Could be. Fluff? Definitely NO. ***** Sex and the Sity (a la Singapore)? Bridget Jones with some sad and bleak undertones? Possibly. This was nothing if not educational and eye-opening! And I truly mean it. Seemingly fluffy entertainment but you soon realise as the book sucks you in that even though it seems to swim on the glittery and shallow surface, there are some dark and muddy undercurrents. The cover blurb mentions Emma, but if you a Very hard to shelve. Where should it go? A comedy of manners? Could be. Fluff? Definitely NO. ***** Sex and the Sity (a la Singapore)? Bridget Jones with some sad and bleak undertones? Possibly. This was nothing if not educational and eye-opening! And I truly mean it. Seemingly fluffy entertainment but you soon realise as the book sucks you in that even though it seems to swim on the glittery and shallow surface, there are some dark and muddy undercurrents. The cover blurb mentions Emma, but if you are looking for any type of resemblance to a Jane Austen character, the MC, Jazzy reminds me of more of a modern Lucy Steele or maybe Isabella Thorpe.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    SARONG PARTY GIRLS pulls off an interesting trick. After you spend the first half of it laughing and highly enjoying yourself as you watch Jazzy and her friends drink and party and drink and party and drink and party, things start to take a turn. This book has you convinced it's a light, fluffy romp and then it slowly shows that it has a real heart and a conscience. It's a happy surprise that only makes the book richer. The blurb calls this book EMMA, which it isn't. Though its closest comparison SARONG PARTY GIRLS pulls off an interesting trick. After you spend the first half of it laughing and highly enjoying yourself as you watch Jazzy and her friends drink and party and drink and party and drink and party, things start to take a turn. This book has you convinced it's a light, fluffy romp and then it slowly shows that it has a real heart and a conscience. It's a happy surprise that only makes the book richer. The blurb calls this book EMMA, which it isn't. Though its closest comparison is probably the film CLUELESS, which was a kind of adaptation of EMMA, so maybe it's two degrees removed? I use CLUELESS because Jazzy and Cher are both judgmental, overly focused on class and outward appearances, and are hiding a big, beating heart below their name brand dresses. Jazzy, though, is not a naive teenager. She's a bona fide party girl with years of experience who knows all the best clubs and knows exactly how many shots she can take and still dance (it's a lot). This is a good pick for people who enjoyed CRAZY RICH ASIANS, which hits that juicy tabloid gossip spot. SARONG PARTY GIRLS hits a slightly different spot, but it also is funnier and more genuine. It's also written in Singlish, which may sound intimidating, but it isn't. Jazzy's voice is so clear and unique, you never need to look something up. Her patter starts to become a recognizable rhythm and pretty soon you know what every one of those words means. (If you do want to look things up, I recommend the site http://talkingcock.com) If you are not a fan of sex and swearing, you'll want to go far away from this book, since it has a lot of both. My biggest complaint is that it ends just as the real story is beginning. I'd love to see more.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Aditi

    “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 “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. Synopsis: 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 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.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    Sarong Party Girls is a fascinating novel that attempts to reconcile modern Asia with the traditions of the past in a way that is believable and honest. Sarong Party Girls is the name assigned to a subset of women who actively seek out a relationship and subsequently marriage with rich, white Western men. We are introduced to Jazzy and her friends who are consumed by the need to have status, class and power. The materialism is quite disgusting but no matter how misguided Jazzy and crew are you c Sarong Party Girls is a fascinating novel that attempts to reconcile modern Asia with the traditions of the past in a way that is believable and honest. Sarong Party Girls is the name assigned to a subset of women who actively seek out a relationship and subsequently marriage with rich, white Western men. We are introduced to Jazzy and her friends who are consumed by the need to have status, class and power. The materialism is quite disgusting but no matter how misguided Jazzy and crew are you can't help but admire the raw honesty on show here. The book actually seems on the surface to be a light, easy read but actually, the astute observations the author makes throughout run a lot deeper. The profundity is balanced by some very funny remarks that had me laughing out loud at times. Not only is this an exploration of tradition v modern materialism and gold-digging women but it touches on gender politics at play currently in Singapore, class, sexism, status symbols, capitalism, globalisation, patriarchal systems and the rise of social media. The Singapore setting is described in vivid, majestic detail, so much so that it comes alive on the page along with the vibrant characters. This is a highly original and satirical debut novel; in fact, it's difficult to believe it's Tan's first published book. Written in Singlish, which takes a little getting used to, this story captivated me from start to finish with its social commentary, hilarity and touching exploration of women striving for a better life. I thought the ending really was the icing on the proverbial cake and was incredibly satisfying. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Allen & Unwin for an ARC.

  6. 4 out of 5

    DeB MaRtEnS

    The author informs you at the onset: "This book is written in Singlish...", the patois spoken in modern Singapore, a mixture of languages as long as the country's history of colonial influences- English, Chinese, Mandarin, Cantonese etc.. Where was the translation, I wondered, for those words so obviously specific to the patois? After trying to decipher, translate, decode and struggling a bit with the first few chapters, I suddenly found myself flowing with sentences that ended with "lah", a Sin The author informs you at the onset: "This book is written in Singlish...", the patois spoken in modern Singapore, a mixture of languages as long as the country's history of colonial influences- English, Chinese, Mandarin, Cantonese etc.. Where was the translation, I wondered, for those words so obviously specific to the patois? After trying to decipher, translate, decode and struggling a bit with the first few chapters, I suddenly found myself flowing with sentences that ended with "lah", a Singapore version of the Canadian "eh". I was hearing a rhythm so familiar to that of the large communities of Canadian Chinese speaking native tongues in my part of the country that the voice of Jazzy became almost musical. Endless chatter chatter. Bar hopping looking for Caucasian husbands, rich ones, hoping to be whisked away to a pampered life, treated as women are by Western standards... Jazzy realizes that she had better get a move on, because now in her late twenties, nothing has materialized so far for her close party girl friends - and her best friend has had the audacity to marry a Singapore Chinese man, after all their plans for "a Chanel baby" (Eurasian). In "Sarong Party Girls", Jazzy sets out to accomplish her relationship goal, because no family in Singapore will be satisfied until their daughter is finally married. With her stylish friends in tow, they drinks copious amounts of booze and in Jazzy's vernacular, do "research", most of which leads to compromising situations. Meanwhile, although her career situation is a terrific match for her organizational skills, her boss assesses his assistants by their sexiness and discards them to a dead-end department after their shelf life of age twenty-four is over. This is "chick lit" with bite... And claws. This is the world of contemporary Singapore for young women - on some level or another. As its women try to find a voice in a historically misogynistic culture, Singapore's men are resistant. There is a sleazy underbelly to the glamour where everything can be bought in Asia and when it is men who hold the money. Old Singapore and its traditional arranged marriages are derided, but the average woman's worth is mostly locked into marriage. Jazzy's story is one of young women coming of age in Singapore, her personal discovery of what it takes to find what she wants and needs. 3.5 stars, bumped up to four. It is ribaldry sexual, in your face desperate promiscuity, including adulterous husbands and a brothel. But the social commentary, the Singlish and the terrific character development create a thought provoking novel.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ivana - Diary of Difference

    Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest A quick Chick-Lit, written in Singlish, an English-based patois that Singaporeans speak to each other. It was interesting and unique, and given the fact that I haven’t read anything like this before, I genuinely enjoyed the writing. This is my first book from Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan. Our main heroine in this book is Jazzy, a 27-year-old, born and living in Singapore. In her mind, she is getting old and her time to get married is running out. But Jazzy Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest A quick Chick-Lit, written in Singlish, an English-based patois that Singaporeans speak to each other. It was interesting and unique, and given the fact that I haven’t read anything like this before, I genuinely enjoyed the writing. This is my first book from Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan. Our main heroine in this book is Jazzy, a 27-year-old, born and living in Singapore. In her mind, she is getting old and her time to get married is running out. But Jazzy doesn’t want to just marry anyone, especially not the Asian boys she keeps seeing in the clubs, or the ones that are so traditional and bring her mum soup in the mornings. She wants to marry an English Man, become rich, move abroad and have his babies. To achieve this, Jazzy and her friends make a deal to start going into clubs and places and meet their perfect English men. They become Sarong Party Girls, and from chapter to chapter we read about new adventures and troubles that Jazzy gets herself into. This book is unique in many ways, there are a lot of immoral scenes that teach us moral lessons. There is so much culture in this book and it’s nice to see how people tolerate moral levels differently in another part of the world. I didn’t like Jazzy, and I didn’t agree with almost anything she was doing. From chapter to chapter she kept making stupid decisions, and even though she learnt a little bit in the end, she was still clueless at so many things, which I find annoying. As much as I loved the refreshing taste of culture this book gave me, I also didn’t enjoy the main character at all, and am struggling to give it anything more than three stars. It is an amazing book, with quality writing that I am sure represents Singaporeans well, culture a plenty and many scenes that trigger discussions. But if you are looking for your perfect character, you won’t find this is Jazzy. You won’t find it in Sarong Party Girls. Thank you to ReadersFirst and Allen & Unwin for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chaitra

    I am not sure about this book. I knew before I went into it that it was loosely based on Emma, and Emma is my least favorite Jane Austen book. But, I've never read anything set in Singapore, so, I'm game. I'm not sure I liked it. I think it's mostly because I can't figure out if it's stereotyping taken to a rather extreme level or if it's an accurate reflection of how things really are for Singaporean girls. If it's accurate, it's depressing because it seems like sexual exploitation is a part of I am not sure about this book. I knew before I went into it that it was loosely based on Emma, and Emma is my least favorite Jane Austen book. But, I've never read anything set in Singapore, so, I'm game. I'm not sure I liked it. I think it's mostly because I can't figure out if it's stereotyping taken to a rather extreme level or if it's an accurate reflection of how things really are for Singaporean girls. If it's accurate, it's depressing because it seems like sexual exploitation is a part of being men in Singapore, and it's all legal and above board and are used for business deals (I know KTV lounges exist, but I still felt hopelessly sheltered when I read this). Every man Jazzy meets up with seems to be cheating on his wife or girl friend or both of them. The ultimate aim for SPGs is making a Chanel baby (half white/half Singaporean), even for those who don't care for babies as such. There has to be more in life? I mean, in the end, Jazzy comes to the realization that she needs no one, but, it's not something that she's been considering much of the time. She's just forced into situations she doesn't really want to be in, and she can't say no. I didn't get the feeling that she was like Sher, her friend who gave up on white guys and married a Chinese-Singaporean, because she was just tired living her life the way Jazzy, Imo and Fann still are. I guess I don't trust Jazzy to not make bad decisions beyond the book's end. As for the book itself, I enjoyed the Singlish - even though I didn't catch the exact meaning of the words, I still got the gist of it. But it's also casually racist, and about as far away from feminism as it can get. It's got a surface feel of being a beach read, but ultimately it just depressed me.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bookread2day

    Wow! Loved it! Chic-Lit with a difference. Sarong Party Girls was written in Singlish, which is the patois Singaporeans speak to each other. I loved reading every page of Sarong Party Girls which tops my reading as a chic -Lit with a unique hilarious story set in modern Asia. Jazzy hatches a plan just before her 27th birthday, that her and her best friends need to get married with Chanel babies. How funny it's time for them all to get serious about finding themselves a husband that includes them Wow! Loved it! Chic-Lit with a difference. Sarong Party Girls was written in Singlish, which is the patois Singaporeans speak to each other. I loved reading every page of Sarong Party Girls which tops my reading as a chic -Lit with a unique hilarious story set in modern Asia. Jazzy hatches a plan just before her 27th birthday, that her and her best friends need to get married with Chanel babies. How funny it's time for them all to get serious about finding themselves a husband that includes them all having a meeting after work. My favourite funny line was No husband, no two-carat diamond ring, not even a boyfriend. As I've really loved reading Sarong Party Girls I do hope that Cheryl Lu- Lien Tan writes another book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alice (Married To Books)

    I'm so sorry friends, but this one was not for me. Borrowed from my local library's e-book service! Described as the perfect book for fans of Crazy Rich Asians (which I read last year), Sarong Party Girls transports you stright into the party world and rich vibrancy of Singapore to the main character of Jazzy. She and her friends have been pushed into tough beliefs that having status and a rich marriage is the right way to go. They come together to create a pact and find some rich guys to marry b I'm so sorry friends, but this one was not for me. Borrowed from my local library's e-book service! Described as the perfect book for fans of Crazy Rich Asians (which I read last year), Sarong Party Girls transports you stright into the party world and rich vibrancy of Singapore to the main character of Jazzy. She and her friends have been pushed into tough beliefs that having status and a rich marriage is the right way to go. They come together to create a pact and find some rich guys to marry by seeking out the various nightclubs and social events. The Goodreads blurb for this book adds this is a reimagining of Jane Austen's Emma. I love Jane Austen. I feel quite weary whenever I find a storyline that is heavily inspired by classics. To me, Sarong Party Girls focused far too much on nightclubbing, characters cheating on each other, taking shots etc. Reading Asian Fiction is something I really want to focus on. This is one that I couldn't connect to as much as I would have liked!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review On my recent flight to Singapore, I thought it was fitting to read Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan since this book takes place in Singapore. As I was reading this book, it reminded me a bit of Crazy Rich Asians and so I was thoroughly invested into the vivid and crazy antics Ms. Tan was able to portray with her characters. Sarong Party Girls somewhat stays true to young Asian women in Singapore where fashion, money, glam, and soc Copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review On my recent flight to Singapore, I thought it was fitting to read Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan since this book takes place in Singapore. As I was reading this book, it reminded me a bit of Crazy Rich Asians and so I was thoroughly invested into the vivid and crazy antics Ms. Tan was able to portray with her characters. Sarong Party Girls somewhat stays true to young Asian women in Singapore where fashion, money, glam, and social status is a must. And so Ms. Tan dives into her book as she introduces readers to Jazzy and her colorful and entertaining life that consists of social mingling and lots of partying. So of course, this book is lots of craziness to keep readers entertained as we get a small taste of what Singapore is like. And as I was finishing up this book while I was in Singapore, I can actually picture the taste and sounds of Singapore since I did find certain hotels and bars in the city to be pretentious and immediately I thought of Jazzy and her friends. But life can’t be all about money and glam, and soon Jazzy will discover that there is more to life. So if you are looking for a book that was hilarious, witty, smart, fun, fresh and insightful then this book is for you. Review can also be found on Four Chicks Flipping Pages: http://fourchicksflippingpages.weebly...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alexis Jackson

    ***I won this book via a Goodreads Giveaway! While this book allows you to gain the "lower" to middle class perspective of some women in Singapore, I couldn't help but think that the image and representation being painted here is distasteful, maybe even offensive. Although I'm sure that all the author shares, while a fictional interpretation, is true, regarding the restless nightlife, desire to claim an American husband for a better future, the stigmatisms against tradition, and more, I had troub ***I won this book via a Goodreads Giveaway! While this book allows you to gain the "lower" to middle class perspective of some women in Singapore, I couldn't help but think that the image and representation being painted here is distasteful, maybe even offensive. Although I'm sure that all the author shares, while a fictional interpretation, is true, regarding the restless nightlife, desire to claim an American husband for a better future, the stigmatisms against tradition, and more, I had trouble both respecting and liking our narrator, Jazeline. She is presented as an almost-thirty year old woman, still living at home in her parent's house, with a pretty good job, and no dating prospects. Evenings and weekends are filled with drinking and clubbing, the pursuit of "ang mohs," but is this realistic? Finding a life partner while clubbing? At this book's close, Jazzy comes to realize a couple of things: she is less judgmental (in Sher's marriage of an Ah Beng), she has a clearer sense of some right and wrong (that she has been a shitty friend, that KTV lounges offers a horrible image of women, and they are sexually exploited), and that she really only needs herself. I would say that this was less than a satisfying end; while I respect that she decides to pursuit a more fulfilling career, and has found respect for herself, is it enough? Not to be corny, but the whole book was about the prospect of love--if she isn't going to find it in a man, can she at least admit that she LOVES herself? her friends? I think this book was meant to enlighten and surprise, but living in an age where more and more women are becoming independent, I think this title could've done a better job in Jazzy's search of herself.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    This was too long, I think. It felt like a lot of the same over and over until the very end. Jazzy wasn't always very likable, but . . . in a good way? Like, she felt young more than anything else. And certainly it was uncomfortable reading at times, seeing lots of misogyny, including internal misogyny. This was too long, I think. It felt like a lot of the same over and over until the very end. Jazzy wasn't always very likable, but . . . in a good way? Like, she felt young more than anything else. And certainly it was uncomfortable reading at times, seeing lots of misogyny, including internal misogyny.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Lam

    Synopsis: a book about three ethnically Chinese Singaporean women who set out on a quest to find rich white husbands so they can have maids and highrises. You'd think I'd hate it. It's really a 3.5 star, but I rounded up since this book managed to surprise me. There comes a time, I think, in every woman's life when she realizes the degree to which systematic misogyny pollutes every part of her life and through this quest, Jazzy, at 26, is coming to realize that she's not as okay as she thought wi Synopsis: a book about three ethnically Chinese Singaporean women who set out on a quest to find rich white husbands so they can have maids and highrises. You'd think I'd hate it. It's really a 3.5 star, but I rounded up since this book managed to surprise me. There comes a time, I think, in every woman's life when she realizes the degree to which systematic misogyny pollutes every part of her life and through this quest, Jazzy, at 26, is coming to realize that she's not as okay as she thought with the gender roles assigned to her in Singaporean society. She runs into problems with her job (the threat of being put to pasture where all late-twenties assistants go); her friendships; her romantic and sexual relationships as well as the issue of consent in situations where it's not so obvious the way a woman may feel pressured into sex. Jazzy has agency and is deeply, deeply flawed. She makes terrible decisions, but feels badly about them. She has prejudices and greed and throughout the book, she gets into situations that lead her to the realization that she deserves more than an okay guy who can provide for her; that happiness comes in different forms and perhaps their initial goal was not as much of a slam dunk as she thought. Written in first person, Tan uses a lively Singaporish that takes some getting used to (think Clockwork Orange kind of slang), but once you do, it really sets a fun and fast rhythm in her cadence.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Heather Young

    In Jazzy, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan's lively, sassy narrator, a cultural phenomenon finds its voice: the young, status-obsessed Singaporean women who roam Singapore's glitzy nightclub scene in spike-heeled swarms, hell-bent on snagging the ultimate trophy, a white, ex-pat husband. Jazzy is determined that she and her two fellow "sarong party girls" will snag their "ang mohs" before they age out at the horrifyingly old age of 28. But what starts out as a fun romp through hilariously over-the-top nightcl In Jazzy, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan's lively, sassy narrator, a cultural phenomenon finds its voice: the young, status-obsessed Singaporean women who roam Singapore's glitzy nightclub scene in spike-heeled swarms, hell-bent on snagging the ultimate trophy, a white, ex-pat husband. Jazzy is determined that she and her two fellow "sarong party girls" will snag their "ang mohs" before they age out at the horrifyingly old age of 28. But what starts out as a fun romp through hilariously over-the-top nightclubs deepens as the book goes along, as Jazzy begins to question what it really means to be a woman in Singapore, and faces her own hedonism with an honest eye. It's also written entirely in Singlish, a singsong distillation of English, Chinese, Malay and other languages that -- don't worry -- is easy to read and very understandable. I loved this book: it's fresh, smart, sneakily heartwarming, and unlike anything else out there.

  16. 4 out of 5

    N.L. Brisson

    When I checked out what books were being published this summer I came across this novel, Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan. I wasn’t sure if it would be worth reading or not but the description said that the author had written in Singlish, a dialect of English used in Singapore and that this was a dialect that in no way would affect my ability to read and understand this story. I am a language and word lover so that was all I needed to get me to give the book a try. I was afraid it would When I checked out what books were being published this summer I came across this novel, Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan. I wasn’t sure if it would be worth reading or not but the description said that the author had written in Singlish, a dialect of English used in Singapore and that this was a dialect that in no way would affect my ability to read and understand this story. I am a language and word lover so that was all I needed to get me to give the book a try. I was afraid it would be some fluffy chick lit, but like the chick lit I have read, it contains deeper thoughts and redeeming qualities. On the surface the narrator, Jazeline (Jazzy) and her friends, Imo, Fann and Sher seem quite superficial. They have been girls, like many girls in America, who go to work all week and then head out clubbing on the weekends. They are modern girls so they drink a lot, dance a lot, and they sleep around a bit. The dialect they speak in uses many references we think of as sexual and this fact alone means that this book will not suit all readers. In truth, there is no subtlety to be found in the Singapore bar scene that the Sarong Party Girls move in, which caters to every taste that men, if allowed, will indulge in, so I caution you again not to read this novel if you don’t want to learn about their world. The story line reminds me, however, of an old American movie with the title How to Marry a Millionaire except these girls are already sexually active and they want to marry white guys (ang mohs). Still, like the women in the movie, it is easy to like Jazeline, and to wish her well despite the rather materialistic project she is currently pursuing. Every once in a while Jazzy shows some real insight into certain realities about the treatment of women in modern Singapore (and elsewhere) by men, especially obvious if you go clubbing every weekend in a bar scene where wealthy men like to keep an entourage of young pretty women around them while they party. The author, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, manages to stay in dialect, using the hip cadences of Singlish almost all of the time. The dialect thins out a bit when Jazzy/Cheryl shares with us her insights into things she is starting to be critical of in relation to the male-female dynamic as she begins to think about finding a partner for life, rather than just living to enjoy the weekends. She is getting too old for the clubs and she is feeling pressured to find her ang moh right now. Here’s Jazzy/Cheryl in almost full Singlish mode: “Aiyoh—mabuk already?” Charlie said, blinking at us one time while she pulled out her cigs from her handbag and threw them on the table. This woman was really damn action! Her eyes are quite big and pretty, so she knows that when she acts drama a bit with them, men confirm will steam when they see it. Some more she always outlines her eyes with thick thick black black pencil, so it makes them look bigger and darker, a bit like those chio Bollywood actresses. This type of move – yes is quite obvious drama, but that night, I thought to myself, Jazzy, better take notes. If you can pull this off well, it can be quite useful.” Here’s Jazzy/Cheryl losing some Singlish as she makes a deeper point: “The truth is, even if I felt like I could speak honestly, I didn’t know how to explain everything – or anything, really. How to tell him about a society where girls grow up watching their fathers have mistresses and second families on the side? Or one in which you find out one day that it is your mother who is the concubine and that you are the second family? A society that makes you say, when you are twelve or seventeen, ‘No matter what, when I grow up, I am never going to be the woman that tolerates that!’ But then you actually grow up and you look around, and the men who are all around you, the boys you grew up with, no matter how sweet or kind or promising they were, that somehow they have turned into men that all our fathers were and still are.” I enjoyed this novel even more than I thought I would because it is even more like that old movie How to Marry a Millionaire than you might think. Movies of that classic film era generally contained a message, a practical moral message that passed on some wisdom from the elders in a form that was palatable to a younger generation. I did not really expect to find this in Sarong Party Girls, but it is there, along with a lot of shocking descriptions of what “fun” is like in Singapore, and it made the book worth more. It made it as Jazzy would say, quite shiok -- and it is quite feminist also, without leaving men out.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

    Sarong Party Girls is the first fiction novel by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, a New York City-based food and fashion writer who was born and raised in Singapore. The term ‘Sarong Party Girl’ is a largely derogatory reference in Singapore to women who exclusively pursue Caucasian men as romantic partners, spurning ah bengs (Chinese/Singaporean men), whom they generally hold in low regard. Tan’s protagonist is 26 year old Jazelin (aka Lin Boon Huag) who is on the hunt for the ultimate Singaporean status sym Sarong Party Girls is the first fiction novel by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, a New York City-based food and fashion writer who was born and raised in Singapore. The term ‘Sarong Party Girl’ is a largely derogatory reference in Singapore to women who exclusively pursue Caucasian men as romantic partners, spurning ah bengs (Chinese/Singaporean men), whom they generally hold in low regard. Tan’s protagonist is 26 year old Jazelin (aka Lin Boon Huag) who is on the hunt for the ultimate Singaporean status symbol, an ang moh husband, but competition is fierce, and Jazzy isn’t getting any younger. She, along with her closest friends Imo and Fann, spend almost every night in Singapore’s exclusive clubs and bars hoping to meet the man of their dreams. Provocatively dressed, they dance, flirt, drink, and sometimes sleep, with any western man who looks sideways at them. But as Jazzy steps up her campaign to win the affection of a suitable ang mah, she is slowly forced to reconsider the lifestyle she has chosen. Not being familiar with the Singaporean culture I appreciated reading a book set in the country. I have heard a few stories from people who have spent time in Singapore that seems to confirm at least some elements of Tan’s portrayal of the city’s nightlife, including the behaviour of Sarong Party Girls, and the exploitation of women in both personal and professional arena’s. I was surprised to learn of the apparent social acceptance of girlfriends, mistresses, and even second families, for married Chinese/Singaporean men. I really don’t see any similarities between Jane Austen’s Emma, and Sarong Party Girls as suggested by the publisher, other than the general desire of the women for an advantageous match in marriage. If there is an Austen character whom Jazzy resembles at all, it’s probably Lydia in Pride and Prejudice who is so focused on the idea of gaining status and wealth via marriage, she ignores the reality of the choices she makes in pursuit of her goal. The element I probably most enjoyed about Sarong Party Girls was the Singlish patios used, which I found easy to decipher with context. The rhythm seemed natural and helped to illustrate both character and setting. A glimpse into a culture quite different from my experience, I liked Sarong Party Girls well enough, it’s well written, and entertaining.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I love Singapore books, and though SPG stereotypes can be the bane of my existence sometimes, I can see how a character like that can be a novelist's dream. So much to unpack, man. Which is why I was very excited when Cheryl Tan announced this book! Sadly, it left me feeling rather meh. Nothing seems to change in the novel. Nothing much happens. It's chapter after chapter of the main character talking about how chio she is, how she makes men steam; how Sher is the prettiest and Imo is cute but F I love Singapore books, and though SPG stereotypes can be the bane of my existence sometimes, I can see how a character like that can be a novelist's dream. So much to unpack, man. Which is why I was very excited when Cheryl Tan announced this book! Sadly, it left me feeling rather meh. Nothing seems to change in the novel. Nothing much happens. It's chapter after chapter of the main character talking about how chio she is, how she makes men steam; how Sher is the prettiest and Imo is cute but Fann is kinda plain; partying at similar places with the same sleazy men (all of whom, whether local or foreign, seem to be cheating on their partners); how irritating her mom is; making bad decisions over and over. I feel there's no character development except in the last two pages, when Jazzy suddenly, a bit out of nowhere, decides she doesn't need anyone after all. I feel like the author grapples with SPGs and China girls, dislikes how Asian women are treated in certain circles but at the same time hates how these women sometimes perpetuate negative stereotypes themselves - but she wasn't quite sure how to turn those issues into a compelling narrative. Kudos on using Singlish. I enjoyed the slang, though I'm a Hokkien Malaysian so I did understand every word. In the end, I'm glad I read this - it has its moments: Jazzy's mom - heck, all the moms, especially Imo's, are women I would've liked to know more about; flashbacks to Jazzy's teenage years made me smile. The chick lit cover hides how dark this novel can be. Fathers disappointing their daughters runs through this novel, and what happened with Louis was a heartbreaking incident that the author depicts in shades of grey (he did not force her, but she felt she had no choice... So what kind of intercourse is that?). It's supposed to be over the top and satirical, but in the end I thought it was a sad, realistic glimpse into the desperate lives of some women (and men) in the city state.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

    I received a free copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. I was excited to have won this book, as I am not very familiar with modern Singapore. While the book does paint an exciting portrait of the life of a young Singaporean woman, I was disappointed by the lack of plot and flat characters. Jazzy and her friends make a pact to land a white boyfriend and eventually get married, but the bulk of the book is essentially a couple weeks in the life of a Sarong Party Girl, with an out-of-the b I received a free copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway. I was excited to have won this book, as I am not very familiar with modern Singapore. While the book does paint an exciting portrait of the life of a young Singaporean woman, I was disappointed by the lack of plot and flat characters. Jazzy and her friends make a pact to land a white boyfriend and eventually get married, but the bulk of the book is essentially a couple weeks in the life of a Sarong Party Girl, with an out-of-the blue revelation for Jazzy in the last few pages of the book. It's a pretty shallow world she lives in, and I did appreciate the examination of a woman's place in this society, especially compared to the men who are basically expected to cheat on their wives. The novel is written in Singlish, a mix of English and Singaporean slang, which made it a lively read, but the character's voice was somewhat oversimplified and could have used a little refinement, especially in the pacing of the novel, which as a little confusing at times. The novel could have had more potential had Jazzy discovered her independence much sooner in the novel, and the reader could have explored her newfound identity in contrast to the society in which she lives.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amy McLay Paterson

    I picked up this book because of the comparisons to Emma and Breakfast at Tiffany's, but it actually reminded me most of A Clockwork Orange. Not only because of the linguistic tricks, but also because Tan's interrogation of a certain type of toxic hyper-femininity strikes me as similar to Burgess' treatment of Alex's views on masculinity. I picked up this book because of the comparisons to Emma and Breakfast at Tiffany's, but it actually reminded me most of A Clockwork Orange. Not only because of the linguistic tricks, but also because Tan's interrogation of a certain type of toxic hyper-femininity strikes me as similar to Burgess' treatment of Alex's views on masculinity.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Fern

    Bimbo beach read. Fine for a Western audience unfamiliar with the milieu, but as Singaporean reader, found myself struggling with cognitive dissonance. Pop cultural references that are too old for the 20something protagonists and new "Singlish" constructions (fasterly? rubba?) being the most distracting. Bimbo beach read. Fine for a Western audience unfamiliar with the milieu, but as Singaporean reader, found myself struggling with cognitive dissonance. Pop cultural references that are too old for the 20something protagonists and new "Singlish" constructions (fasterly? rubba?) being the most distracting.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Naaytaashreads

    As much as I want to love this book, I did not enjoy it. I mean it was an enjoyable chick lit for a quick read but the content kind off like throw me off. As a Singaporean female, I just want to say we are nothing like any of the characters in this book so please don't stereotype that. I was kind of excited to know that the book has a mixture of Singlish. Which Singaporeans are use to every day life (Singapore + English). There are slangs that we used that is most commonly known in Singapore. Howe As much as I want to love this book, I did not enjoy it. I mean it was an enjoyable chick lit for a quick read but the content kind off like throw me off. As a Singaporean female, I just want to say we are nothing like any of the characters in this book so please don't stereotype that. I was kind of excited to know that the book has a mixture of Singlish. Which Singaporeans are use to every day life (Singapore + English). There are slangs that we used that is most commonly known in Singapore. However in this book I think the use of Singlish is just too extreme to the point where I'm like who the hell speaks like this? That threw me off. I did not like any of the characters. They did not have much personality or character growth. The characters are just a turn off. It gives off such a bad potrayal of Singapore females. We are definitely not like anything in this book. I know its a work of fiction and everything but I wish the plot was more in depth of a character development.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bookphenomena (Micky)

    I'm going to be rather brief in my review on this one because it was a struggle to be engaged or stay engaged with this read. SARONG PARTY GIRLS feels initally like a light read with vapid characters, I could see quite quickly that that most of the characters were deeper than first glance but I struggled nonetheless to make connections with them. Singapore life for the rich and entitled was like many that of the young and rich in other cities but with a different cultural landscape. These women w I'm going to be rather brief in my review on this one because it was a struggle to be engaged or stay engaged with this read. SARONG PARTY GIRLS feels initally like a light read with vapid characters, I could see quite quickly that that most of the characters were deeper than first glance but I struggled nonetheless to make connections with them. Singapore life for the rich and entitled was like many that of the young and rich in other cities but with a different cultural landscape. These women were aiming to secure a white, western man but all did not go to plan. The tale completely immerses the reader from the first page in Singlish - a patois of the region which although was comprehensible, it was difficult to get lost in the words or story because I was constantly trying to make meaning and connections between words. Overall, this read wasn't for me. Thank you to Allen & Unwin for the review copy.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rae DelBianco

    SARONG PARTY GIRLS is a far cry from my usual genre—it's written in Singlish, the English-based Singaporean slang that includes influences from Malay to Cantonese, and from the point of view of a young woman hard bent to get a husband. It's light and fun, but then also becomes darkly honest, satirical, and deeply emotionally resonant as Tan tackles sexual harassment, sexism, and the cultural complication of the valuing of white men as "a way out," with dire consequences. I highly recommend it—a SARONG PARTY GIRLS is a far cry from my usual genre—it's written in Singlish, the English-based Singaporean slang that includes influences from Malay to Cantonese, and from the point of view of a young woman hard bent to get a husband. It's light and fun, but then also becomes darkly honest, satirical, and deeply emotionally resonant as Tan tackles sexual harassment, sexism, and the cultural complication of the valuing of white men as "a way out," with dire consequences. I highly recommend it—a compulsively readable and highly unique novel on a major cultural situation I have never before seen confronted in literature.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Cavar

    One part beach read, one part commentary on misogyny and white supremacy in a Singaporean context, and an important indictment of (s)expat culture to boot. This book is especially poignant in the wake of #metoo, although it was published a year before the movement hit the national stage. Worth noting, too, is the novel’s use of Singlish, the Singaporean patois of American and British Englishes, several Chinese dialects, and Malay. The use of language here was fun, relevant, and refreshing. This One part beach read, one part commentary on misogyny and white supremacy in a Singaporean context, and an important indictment of (s)expat culture to boot. This book is especially poignant in the wake of #metoo, although it was published a year before the movement hit the national stage. Worth noting, too, is the novel’s use of Singlish, the Singaporean patois of American and British Englishes, several Chinese dialects, and Malay. The use of language here was fun, relevant, and refreshing. This wasn’t a life-changing novel, but it *was* both light and socially aware, and a unique read I’ve never experienced anything quite like.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Hall

    A Sarong Party Girl’s path to self-discovery as traditional Singaporean society clashes with modern materialism. Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan takes a look at the lives of women in Asia as old traditions and the patriarchal structure conflict with materialism and the ambitions of a modern young woman loathe to follow her parents lifestyle. Direct and very vocal, protagonist Jazeline “Jazzy” Lin Boon Huag takes no prisoners as she stands on the brink of her twenty-seventh birthday and takes a calculated look A Sarong Party Girl’s path to self-discovery as traditional Singaporean society clashes with modern materialism. Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan takes a look at the lives of women in Asia as old traditions and the patriarchal structure conflict with materialism and the ambitions of a modern young woman loathe to follow her parents lifestyle. Direct and very vocal, protagonist Jazeline “Jazzy” Lin Boon Huag takes no prisoners as she stands on the brink of her twenty-seventh birthday and takes a calculated look at her future. Having lost one of her closest girlfriends, Sher, to the failure of marrying a Singaporean guy, Jazzy decides that it is time to get serious and stake her claim to the enviable prospect of marrying an ang moh (white, Western, rich) man and delivering the ultimate status symbol in a “Chanel baby”. Written in colloquial and colourful Singlish, Sarong Party Girls provides an insight into the realities of Singaporean culture in a tongue-in-cheek and bawdy affair. Full of attitude and now having lost the prettiest of their set, Jazzy is accompanied on her mission by friends Imo and Fann and although Jazzy appears to have a promising job as the assistant to the editor in chief at the New Times. With men lining up to tell her how life in Singapore is great for women of her age with good jobs, the freedom to date whomever they wish and dress how they want, she is a clear-eyed cynic when it comes to seeing the real balance of power in modern Asia. From the inherent sexism in the workplace to the stereotypical role that females are expected to play in society, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan’s novel is clearly satirical fiction but it does make some pertinent observations about the inadequacies of the traditional culture and the equally flawed materialistic brand-obsessed and morally ambiguous ambitions of the SPGs. Jazzy’s long suffering parents might be worried about her shallow ambitions and getting left on the shelf but nothing seems to deter her casual attitude to sex and highly calculative approach to marriage. Until, that is, she starts to make some revelations about everything from sexism to class structure and the fact that married men frequent the seedy nightlife of KTV lounges and think little of engaging in ‘funny business’ outside of their marriage vows. From diatribes about Singaporean rich guys (“spineless babies who at the end of the day always kowtow to their snobby mums”), to the fact that her days are numbered as the eye candy assistant to her boss with a sideways move to the circulation department in store. Although Jazzy’s highs and lows on the SPG scene individually provide light amusement the problem comes when they follow on continuously and the story fails to move forward until the later stages. Although Jazzy initially outlines her plan for marrying a rich ang moh husband, once she details the various aspects (knowing the enemy, the best pick-up joints and behaving like marriage material and fitting into their worlds) the novel loses direction and feels like a journey through the SPG’s hellish night culture. Although Jazzy initially comes across as greedy, cruel and lacking in compassion as she cuttingly critiques the other women she comes across, the reader can’t help but feel some of this is just for show as she wrestles with a war between the two worlds she knows. And as much as she tries to knock it, maybe the life of her parents generation isn’t all bad.. Although the Singlish didn’t prove overly onerous to infer the meaning of, it did grate as the novel progressed and felt rather akin to reading an entire book in broken English. Whilst the vernacular language is largely crude and some may find it offensive, my problem was that it reduced the novels coherence, and the most significant insights on the lives of modern Asian women and social commentary undoubtably deserved a more focused platform. Whilst I appreciated the overall positive message and Jazzy’s eventual voyage of self-discovery, the journey was very hit and miss and repetitive bar and club nights proved far from riveting. For far too long the story felt light on substance and just a bit too akin to air-headed chick-lit to keep me wholly engaged, however it certainly makes several very relevant points. With thanks to Readers First who provided me with a free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sam Still Reading

    Books set in Singapore are a rarity – before Crazy Rich Asians, the only books I could find were by local authors. Sarong Party Girls continues (at least initially) in the same vein as Crazy Rich Asians, but without the dizzying displays of wealth. Oh, it’s still there but this is much more of a heartland kind of book with a normal heroine. At the start, I thought this would be all party party party (and drink drink drink) but as the story continues, our heroine Jazzy finds the darker side of th Books set in Singapore are a rarity – before Crazy Rich Asians, the only books I could find were by local authors. Sarong Party Girls continues (at least initially) in the same vein as Crazy Rich Asians, but without the dizzying displays of wealth. Oh, it’s still there but this is much more of a heartland kind of book with a normal heroine. At the start, I thought this would be all party party party (and drink drink drink) but as the story continues, our heroine Jazzy finds the darker side of the club scene. Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan writes this book in Singlish, the local patois of Singapore. If you’ve been to Singapore, you may be familiar with the some of the expressions (such as lah to end a sentence, aiyoh as an exclamation and ang moh for a foreigner). If not, you will get an idea of what they mean as you read. But if you want to brush up on your Singlish and make sure you’re not talking cock, I recommend http://www.singlishdictionary.com/. I promise you that the book is easy to read and guniang here was pretty much fluent at the end. The premise of the story is pretty simple on the surface – Jazzy and her friends are getting old (nearly 27!) and need to find themselves rich expat husbands to have beautiful Eurasian babies. This needs to be done quickly so they set themselves a deadline of 1 year. Jazzy’s former best friend is already off the table – Sher has disgraced the team by marrying an Ah Beng (local) man. Imo and Fann take up the challenge, but it’s really only Jazzy who takes this super-seriously. She plots and plans how to find a rich husband and gets herself entangled in the shadier sides of the club/expat scene where women are nothing but pieces of meat. By day, Jazzy is worried about her job as her boss makes noises about trading her in for a younger model and the deterioration of her friendship with Jazz. Will this sweet social climber find true love or the ang moh of her dreams? Jazzy is a simple girl who gets caught up in all sorts of odd stuff at night. Initially, she’s happy to be there looking shiok, making the boys steam for free drinks and VIP areas. So what if she’s not always comfortable with the way the men are acting? It’s a small price to pay. But her eyes begin to open at a Chinese club where the girls are the entertainment for the men and how the women are treated as sex objects at a KTV lounge. And when people she thought she trusted begin to act like she’s nothing but a plaything…will Jazzy accept things or will she revolt? She’s a strong character with an iron will but not always in the right direction. I came to love Jazzy as the book went on as she faced up to some facts she had carefully been ignoring. I liked how Sarong Party Girls started off like a big party life then went on to explore the dangers of excess (drinking, money and the like), rebellion against tradition and the marginalisation of women. The reactions of the different women were interesting and sometimes astounding in my opinion. It’s still a fun read though and I’d recommend it for those looking for a fun read that also comments on issues below the seemingly perfect surface. Thanks to SocialBookCo for the copy of this book. My review is honest. http://samstillreading.wordpress.com

  28. 4 out of 5

    Juliet

    Rating: 0 stars No, just... no. As a Chinese Singaporean living in Singapore myself, I would like to point out that this is NOT what Singlish is like. I felt that this book was such a misrepresentation of Singaporeans, especially when Jazzy (the main character) constantly points out how "low class" everyone else is if they do not behave like her. There were many, many problems that I found with this book: 1. The author's supposed idea of Singlish I understand that as a dialect, everyone has their o Rating: 0 stars No, just... no. As a Chinese Singaporean living in Singapore myself, I would like to point out that this is NOT what Singlish is like. I felt that this book was such a misrepresentation of Singaporeans, especially when Jazzy (the main character) constantly points out how "low class" everyone else is if they do not behave like her. There were many, many problems that I found with this book: 1. The author's supposed idea of Singlish I understand that as a dialect, everyone has their own interpretation and use of the language, and Singlish is an incredibly versatile language with its own chapalang (mish-mash) vocabulary, but I have never ever heard of anyone using the term "fasterly" before. What passes for Singlish in this book is in fact just the characters cursing up, down, left, right (everywhere) in hokkien. guniang (girly) is usually only used in to effeminate a guy, not to refer to oneself. Also, for a gang of girls who are trying to score a rich guy to move up into a new social stratosphere, these girls behave as much as the ah lians (basically our term for unsophisticated girls here) they abhor. As a Singaporean, I love the usage of Singlish. I may be able to write and speak in proper English, but when I'm out with my friends, we definitely revert to Singlish. I love that it is such a convenient language - ideas and emotions that would take full sentences in perfect English can be conveyed in a simple phrase. For example, pangseh means that someone has stood you up, and the phrase conveys both the irritation, frustration and disbelief in getting stood up. 2. Unlikable characters. The entire story is told from the POV of Jazeline, or Jazzy, and I found her to be vapid and immature at best and annoying and bitchy at worst. Throughout the book, she was obsessed with finding a rich ang-moh husband, and during the process dismissed people for the most menial of things (like having a hairy nose). Although bring materialistic and vain did fit into the stereotype of a Sarong Party Girl, reading from her point of view was just irritating. She stopped talking to her best friend - and they have been friends for most of their life - simply because she fell in love with a *gasp* Singaporean man! That petty behaviour was a huge factor in her unlikeability. Her two other friends did not fare better, with flat personalities and were basically her entourage the entire book. Fann was literally described as unmemorable, and Imo spent the entire book chasing after a jerk who did not even pay her a single lick of respect. None of them ever showed any care about each other, and that "friendship" really turned me off. Overall, I am definitely regretting reading this book and am shocked at this inaccurate portrayal of my country.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jessica | Booked J

    Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Review originally posted here at Booked J. As we all know, I'm a sucker for retellings/re-imaginings. Emma by Jane Austen is one of my favourite works of classic literature. Combining it with an indulgent, modern feeling ala Gossip Girl and Crazy Rich Asians, is basically like screaming THIS WAS MADE FOR JESSICA! at the top of your lungs. You already know I had to have it. It's basically Clueless (also based loosely on Emma) in Singapore. I mean? Yes, please. Sarong Pa Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Review originally posted here at Booked J. As we all know, I'm a sucker for retellings/re-imaginings. Emma by Jane Austen is one of my favourite works of classic literature. Combining it with an indulgent, modern feeling ala Gossip Girl and Crazy Rich Asians, is basically like screaming THIS WAS MADE FOR JESSICA! at the top of your lungs. You already know I had to have it. It's basically Clueless (also based loosely on Emma) in Singapore. I mean? Yes, please. Sarong Party Girls scratches that itching desire for something fun and breezy, full of style and parties and the general glitz and glamour of the privileged, and it does it well. This is a definite beach read that is fun but still pretty heartfelt. You're going to have mixed feelings about the judgmental traits that characters have--but you'll soon discover there is more to them than meets the eye. Our main character Jazzy is likable and flawed. Basking in her life of privilege, all the sex and the glamour and the partying, we get the front row seat in watching her grow. Her story is one of the coming of age variety, and proof that coming of age happens at any age. We're always growing. Everything about Jazzy sparkles and leads readers to, depending on the scene, cringe or sympathize with her. It took me a bit longer than I care to admit to get to reading Sarong Party Girls. I'd kind of burned myself out on this sort of book and just needed a little break. When I did get to it, though, I found myself reading it a little too quickly. That's a testament to Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan's prose--it is light and quick. The very sort of style that calls on your focus and keeps you in place for a specific amount of time. Ultimately, Sarong Party Girls is a fast read. It has humor and heart, style and pose, parties and sex. If ever there were a book destined to make you laugh and swoon, this is it. I only wish it was a little longer.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    I got curious about this book due to the review in Slate. The "Emma but in modern Singapore" tagline is absurd, Slate is right that it's much darker than that, and there's an applicable Ross Douthat piece somewhere I'm sure about the negative consequences of the sexual revolution for women, etc. I can't comment on veracity with the real party scene (in Singapore or elsewhere) but there's enough here of an unflinching look at traditional patriarchal Asian culture, racism, and modern sexual politi I got curious about this book due to the review in Slate. The "Emma but in modern Singapore" tagline is absurd, Slate is right that it's much darker than that, and there's an applicable Ross Douthat piece somewhere I'm sure about the negative consequences of the sexual revolution for women, etc. I can't comment on veracity with the real party scene (in Singapore or elsewhere) but there's enough here of an unflinching look at traditional patriarchal Asian culture, racism, and modern sexual politics that seems true to me in essence. I'm glad the Slate piece gave me a bit of an intro to the Singlish so that wasn't too much of a surprise. I was also slightly helped along by being able to figure out what the occasional pinyin Chinese phrases were but I don't think that would impede understanding. The satire is done well, even if it feels like the book overall ends a bit abruptly--but then again, I can't really think of how else it could've been wrapped to a close while staying true to itself. I thought I might find the main character really annoying, but as you get to know her more, I really felt for her and onto a "don't hate the player, hate the game" stance. Good for: people who are open to thinking about upsides and downsides of more modern dating culture, people that accept complexity and moral ambiguity in their protagonists, people that aren't turned off by blatant statements of ugly truths, people interested in the clash between class, racism, and sexism, and maybe people who want an outlet for hating on cis-het men (I can only think of one non-repugnant male character in the entire book, and it's explained that he's not awful because he's gay). Not good for: PUA who will take fiction as confirming their worldview, people who don't want to just feel a bit depressed about how things are in the world afterwards (this is usually me and is often my stated reason for preferring fiction to nonfiction, but my curiosity overrode that in this instance) Also should be strongly noted that this is NOT chicklit, imo.

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