Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Sarong Party Girls is a delectably vulgar look at the racism, sexism and classism in the upper echelons of Singaporean society

Book Review by Rebecca Wojturska | 01 Aug 2019
  • Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
Book title: Sarong Party Girls
Author: Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Sarong Party Girls follows chic and hard-headed Jazzy, who makes a plan with her girlfriends to marry rich ang moh (white) men so they can have 'Chanel babies' and lead a glamourous life full of Louis Vuitton bags and dinner at the Shang. Her desire to be 'happening', seen at the right clubs and wearing (knock-off) designer gear, leads her to constantly reform herself, with the goal of appeasing the right people and landing herself in the upper rich circles of Singapore. But a scratch beneath the surface proves these circles aren’t everything Jazzy hoped for. 

Sarong Party Girls is told in Singlish – a distinctive patois that blends different languages and dialects of Singapore’s multi-ethnic population. Delectably vulgar, it perfectly captures Jazzy’s world and is joyous to read (more Singlish please, publishers). The book's brilliance lies in its accessible reflection of the racism, sexism and classism in Jazzy’s society, and her growing awareness and ability to handle it. A remarkable fleshed-out character, Jazzy represents a lot of the anxieties and hardships that women globally should be able to relate to.

Lu-Lien Tan has done a fantastic job of bringing Jazzy to life and of balancing the juxtaposition of traditional and contemporary values in Singapore. An absolute summer must-read.

Atlantic Books, 1 Aug, £8.99