Read Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan Online


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 weddinA 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....

Title : Sarong Party Girls
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780062448965
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Sarong Party Girls Reviews

  • Jessica Woodbury
    2019-04-01 15:19

    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 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.

  • Aditi
    2019-04-18 14:12

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

  • Chaitra
    2019-04-23 07:58

    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.

  • DeB MaRtEnS
    2019-03-29 14:01

    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.

  • Michelle
    2019-04-15 15:03

    Copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest reviewOn 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...

  • Katie
    2019-03-29 10:05

    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.

  • Alexis Jackson
    2019-04-08 14:06

    ***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.

  • Christine
    2019-04-24 11:21

    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.

  • Heather Young
    2019-04-11 13:13

    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.

  • Jessie
    2019-03-26 12:58

    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.

  • Amy McLay Paterson
    2019-04-09 12:16

    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.

  • Fern
    2019-04-08 08:16

    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.

  • Rae DelBianco
    2019-03-30 13:18

    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.

  • Nancy Brisson
    2019-04-12 10:24

    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.

  • Jessica Lam
    2019-04-03 15:01

    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.

  • Rachel Goz
    2019-03-28 13:16

    I can't believe this book is described as a fun/funny read. It was disgusting, depressing, and upsetting. I used to want to visit Singapore; not anymore. Once I was more than 50% in I started to absolute hate this story, this culture, the main characters mentality and values, everything. I finished it because I wanted to see if it could redeem itself - there was a slight shift in the right direction but not enough to make this an enjoyable story. It's well written so I feel like if the story was framed as a sobering dramatic look at a culture that completely degrades women, instead of as a comedy, then maybe I could have appreciated it for its social commentary.

  • Claire
    2019-04-23 15:22

    There's a lot that's brilliant about this book--the voice, the research into this very specific world, the separation between narrator and author . . . But there's a lot that's problematic too. The main issue is that, in showing us a life wasted in endless rounds of partying, the author shows us . . . endless rounds of partying. And I felt like I tired of all that way before the narrator did and just wanted her epiphany to come a lot sooner than it did.

  • Juliet
    2019-04-02 10:05

    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 SinglishI 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.

  • Katherine
    2019-04-14 08:06

    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.

  • L.A. Starks
    2019-03-28 12:09

    Readers may find it hard to want to stay in the head of a materialistic protagonist, to wait for her maturing realizations, and to follow along in the book's Singlish patois.Nonetheless, Sarong Party Girls, though fiction, is an inside look into the fast-yet-limited lives of young, pretty Singaporean women. The use of Singlish (translations are usually clear by context) is a fresh take, and the unvarnished classism and sexism is eye-opening.Despite the different cultures, readers will see similarities to Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila.

  • Thessa Lim
    2019-04-08 14:10

    A gutsy novel to expose the sexist culture that remains in Singapore. I do wish that Jazzy had a greater, more concrete transformation at the end. Made me feel sad for women who might be in her situation. But not everybody gets that big of an HEA I guess. Kudos for the Singlish all throughout the book.

  • Jess
    2019-03-30 12:13

    I didn't love this book. I didn't hate it, and I'm glad I read it, but when the inside blurb calls it Emma in Singapore and the back blurb calls it a Modern Breakfast at Tiffany's, you have expectations, particularly in the character growth department. Those expectations were...not quite met.

  • Marisa
    2019-04-08 09:23

    I had absolutely no idea what to expect going into this book, but I'm happy to report it was a really fun read. Light girls-night-out fun on the surface and deeper within.

  • Ari
    2019-04-12 09:12

    Jazzy is one of the most delightful characters I've ever come across; she's bossy, brazen and determined to find white expat husbands for herself and her two best friends. She manages to come across as remarkably self-assured when opining on the various ways to 'get' a man or keep them interested but there is also an undercurrent of vulnerability and feminist awakening to her character. I thought I would grow tired of how self-centered she was or so willing to disparage her race but it was really satisfying to see (read) her character arc. Additionally I appreciated the author's writing about sex, she doesn't gloss over it. Jazzy and her friends own their sexuality and the author's writing reflects that, it isn't cheesy or fluffy, it's actually surprisingly poignant at times as Jazzy feels either empowered or used in different scenarios. Or it's just fun, like when Jazzy says she has one night stands for practice. It was really upsetting to read how resigned to the concubine culture Jazzy and some of her friends were, and how prevalent it was with every man in Jazzy's life. I was slightly familiar with this from an anthropology class I took in college but I hadn't thought about KTV clubs or anything like that in awhile, it all came rushing back as I read about Jazzy's experiences. There are no grand feminist pronouncements but we do see some breakthroughs with Jazzy's behavior in certain situations as she witnesses horrifyingly lewd and exploitive situations. Race and the lingering effects of colonialism are also navigated as Jazzy and her friends sneer at native Singaporean men and focus on accentuating their 'white' features or 'exotic Asian' features that they know white men will love. Jazzy and her friends pursue white expats (British or Australian for the most part) largely because they view them as less willing to cheat than their Asian counterparts. Furthermore Jazzy and co look down on Japanese KTV girls and Mainland Chinese girls, it's very hierarchal and is a result of classism, jealousy and prejudice. It's a lot to unpack in one book but the author does an excellent job of balancing the rollicking fun with Jazzy's quest for upward mobility. I did wish Jazzy had a tiny bit more ambition for her life outside of the marriage plot, she doggedly pursues her goal of marrying an expat that it would have been nice to see her turn that determination to something else too. And just when we think that will be the case the book ends which was annoying.A rambunctious read with a bold narrator who is difficult to forget while also managing to be remarkably candid about the sexual exploitation of women in Singaporean society. It is also a fairly depressing read, I really don't know what the solution is for Singaporean women, should they just leave and find love elsewhere? Accept the cheating? How do you change such a patriarchal culture in a country that is renowned for being clean and law-abiding? These are just some of the questions I was still grappling with as I finished the book. Jazzy and her friends are desperate to break the cycle set by their parents and grandparents but unfortunately the author doesn't seem very optimistic about their odds. And you will walk away with Singlish stuck in your head and some recommendations of bars to try should you visit Singapore (I looked a few up to see if they were real, can confirm). My only frustration is with the ending, just as Jazzy makes a big decision, we are left to imagine how the rest of her life will play out.I just read that this book will be made into a series online so that's exciting, I hope I'm able to find it. But it will be interesting to see how dark the show goes as opposed to the book since they're billing it as 'comedic'.

  • Joséphine (Word Revel)
    2019-03-26 11:10

    January 21, 2017Aborting Audiobook, Continuing with EbookI was pretty excited to learn that one of the big five publishers decided to bring out an audiobook of a novel written in Singlish. While listeners who have never heard Singlish would struggle to understand without a glossary, they'd get to hear tone, which doesn't translate as well on paper. After listening for 01:56:52 hours (page 51 in the hardcover edition), I couldn't bring myself to continue.The story itself has been hilarious. It plays off massive stereotypes, which in the case of Sarong Party Girls makes the characters seem larger than life. They're self-absorbed, and entirely bent on marrying white men to secure their futures. Naturally, as with all stereotypes, there is underlying truth to them but these are also set against values important to Singaporeans in general, such as hard work and filial piety. Since the novel itself does seem to be good for laughs, I will pick up the ebook some time to finish reading the book.Introduction to the LanguageSarong Party Girls was written in Singlish — the creole/patois local to Singapore. The base language is (British) English, though the grammar conventions often mirror Chinese and Malay. A lot of words are borrowed from Malay, Hokkien, Tamil, Mandarin, Teochew, Cantonese, and probably other languages too that I don't recall right now. Tone matters a lot and can affect the meaning and/or connotation of a word or sentence.For someone who has never heard Singlish before, it would probably be fascinating to listen to the audiobook of Sarong Party Girls. I for one, was heartened to hear the familiar lilt of Singlish when I started on the audiobook. However, I noticed that despite the authentic overarching accent, the narrator, Angela Lin, pronounced several words in unconventional ways to Singlish. Turns out she emigrated from Singapore to the USA when she was about 9 years old. I suppose that might why she was not 100% comfortable. Her American accent slipped through occasionally, and other words sounded neither like Singlish nor AmE.Why I Quit the AudiobookSinglish evolves quickly. There are words that were commonly used ten years ago but have fallen out of mainstream use & many new ones have been coined in that time. It's a language that one needs to hear and speak fairly regularly in order to keep vocabulary up to date. I could hear that Angela Lin struggled with terms that were adopted into Singlish over the past decade, as well as words that are very specific to certain types of situations within Singapore.When the narrator pronounced "siam" as "sigh-AHm", that gap became too huge for me to continue listening. I initially thought she said "sayang" but the meaning didn't fit. "Siam" means to get out of the way, while "sayang" means darling. The correct pronunciation should have been "si-ahm", with the "i" for "indeed".Clearly, Angela Lin is out of touch with Singlish. The accent does sound Singaporean — that's something that sticks with someone who spent their formative years in Singapore. Still, more than a few words were mispronounced, which I found distracting. My attention was split between mentally correcting her pronunciation and paying attention to the story itself. This is why I decided to bow out. Continuing would be a waste of my time as the narration distracts rather than enhances my reading experience.Audiobook Pronunciation NotesThe mode of instruction in Singaporean schools is British English (BrE). Spelling generally follows BrE conventions. Pronunciation of words in local standard English is sort of a mix between BrE and American English (AmE). My personal accent aligns more closely with mainstream AmE speech than BrE, so I will use AmE as my reference rather than BrE.00:30 to 00:46The letter "a" is often pronounced as "ah", a stretched syllable. Dancing becomes "dAHn-sing" and laughing sounds like "lah-fing". The narrator pronounced dancing the AmE way and laughing as "leffing". The word chance too, she pronounced the AmE way. In Singlish it usually sounds like "chAHnce". Same goes with last which usually sounds like "lAHst' but strangely, the narrator pronounced it in a way that sounded more like "lest" (with a slight bit more emphasis on the "e".Words such as glas, glasses and after were mispronounced as well. The "a" should also sound like "ah" but the narrator pronounced the "a" like in the word "as" (AmE pronunciation).She also struggled with words originating from Hokkien. The term 'ah beng' should sound like "ah bEHng" but she made "ah bang" out of it. The bang made me laugh so hard and cringe at the same time. Then there was "kao pei" which sort of sounds like "cow pEH". In the audiobook it became "cow bay".00:46 to 01:00"Th" in Singlish tends to be pronounced as "d" for "th" like in "this" or as "t" for "th" like in "thing". The narrator stuck to the AmE pronunciation of "th" when saying "thighs", rather than going for "tighs" as most Singlish speakers do.I've no explanation for why the "a" in "faster" sounded like the "a" in "as". The "r" in Singlish is usually on the silent side, which the narrator did say correctly. Singlish pronunciation is akin to "fAHs-tuh".01:00 to 01:57Word: passportWrong: "pessport"Correct: pAHss-port ("r" is almost silent)Word: splashWrong: splAH-shCorrect: splesh (no change from AmE)Word: tootWrong: toohtCorrect: toot (staccato syllable)Word: cashWrong: cAH-shCorrect: cesh (no change from AmE)Word: siamWrong: sigh-aimCorrect: "si-ahm" ("i" as in "indeed")GeneralWords ending with "-ed" don't usually sound all too different from AmE. The narrator, though, pronounced them "-id", which is wrong. If there's a change, then the "e" is dragged, so words like "wanted" sound like "wAHn-tehd"._________Resources+ A Dictionary of Singlish and Singapore English+ Singlish vocabulary (Wikipedia)

  • Shuhada Ramli
    2019-04-08 16:03

    Defined not my type of reading material. NO. Nothing nice and it's all about the desperate late-20's ladies finding the perfect ang-moh to settle down their future. Nothing special. I don't feel the joy. Not as excited as the synopsis.

  • AudibleBlerd
    2019-04-02 14:16

    I wanted to like this book, but the MC was far too unlikable. To make matters whose, I don't feel like Jazzy really grew as a character. Then the book just ended. I was left with the feeling that a few things should be resolved, but that was it.

  • Andrea McDonald
    2019-04-01 13:01

    I read this for my book club and was shocked and dismayed that this might actually reflect the life and attitude of some Singaporean women. I sincerely hope not. Distressing, disturbing, shocking! I didn't like the characters - they represent so much of what I abhor - shallow, self-serving, vain, ridiculous....The men in the novel are even worse. Effective writing if this was the purpose.....the Singlish was an eye-opener too. I did finish it and look forward to the book club discussion....

  • Sam Still Reading
    2019-04-15 08:12

    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 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.

  • Temple Dog
    2019-04-16 11:58

    This book was almost painful to read. As I dredged my way through all 306, I kept asking “WHY, WHY, WHY? Why was this book written, why any publicist would deem it necessary to hoist this upon the public and more shocking, why have not more readers been as viscerally offended by this book as I was?Tan’s Sarong Party Girls (SPG) centers on the lives, well I can’t say lives because in my opinion they are not truly “living” a fulfilled or well-rounded life; of Jazzy, our protagonist, Sher, the one who got away, albeit in her friends’ eyes, not for a better life, Imo, the one with a tragic family backstory and Fann, not the sharpest chopstick in the fold and their quest to marry an expat Ang Moh, a Caucasian husband and have a Chanel baby. Let’s just say this book does not pass the Bechdel test.Not only do the SPG’s only talk about men, they do so in such a vulgar and derogatory manner that I am screaming just thinking about it. Tan’s prose uses what she calls Singlish a hybridized Singaporean English, a “patois that most Singaporeans speak.” It started to grate on my nerves and unfortunately, I was never able to anesthetize my senses to it. However, I had no trouble numbing my mind. This book could be soul-killing.I get that Tan is trying to satirize the SPG culture and I had desperately hoped that with any morality play, there would be some redemptive moment to justify the crude and degrading representation of all human beings. Sadly, no one comes away unscathed. The SPGs come across as gold-digging vamps, the Asian men read like impish players and the Caucasian men are either drunken frat boys or aristocratic trolls. And, the way Tan characterizes non SPG Asian women is so disparaging, one wonders how the various cultures survive. It’s almost Machiavellian.There is one scene that involves one of the SPGs, Vodka shots and the navel. That sums up the totality of the book. It’s Coyote Ugly meets Madame Butterfly.TD cannot recommend this one.