Sarong Party Girls: A Novel (Paperback)
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.
About the Author
Born and raised in Singapore, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan is a New York–based journalist and author of A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family, and edited the fiction anthology Singapore Noir. She has been a staff writer at the Wall Street Journal, InStyle magazine, and the Baltimore Sun.
“Utterly irresistible….I fell in love with Jazzy’s fresh, exuberant voice and trenchant wit. In her debut novel, Tan is saying something profound and insightful about the place of women in our globalized, capitalized, interconnected world.”
— Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being
“In Singapore, this satirical novel of predatory beauties would be regarded as deeply subversive-for the rest of us, and anyone familiar with the life in that little island city-state, it is hilarious and original.”
— Paul Theroux
“Scarlett O’Hara would have met her match in Jazeline Lim, the brazen, striving, yet ultimately vulnerable heroine of this bold debut novel.”
— Julia Glass, National Book Award-winning author of Three Junes
“Wildly original, daring, hilarious, and heartbreaking in equal measure—Sarong Party Girls is written in a unqiue and captivating voice unlike any I’ve read before. The unforgettable Jazzy will seduce you with her no-holds-barred account of what it’s like to be young and female in modern-day Singapore”
— John Searles, bestselling author of Help for the Haunted and Strange but True
“Through the insouciant voice of her heroine, Tan delivers a stinging and deliciously subversive critique of Singapore’s patriarchal social system. You’ll be so busy laughing at Jazzy’s outrageous cheek, you won’t notice until it’s too late that your heart has been broken.”
— Hillary Jordan, author of When She Woke
“Darkly funny, Sarong Party Girls is one very determined woman’s journey through modern Singapore, an intoxicating crossroads of culture, money, and ambition. Her voice is utterly new and engaging, bringing her world to vivid life from the first sentence.”
— Ayelet Waldman, author of Love and Treasure