Friday, February 26, 2016

Book review: Sarong Party Girls, by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

After the tasty stories about Singaporean food, and not only, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan is back with her first novel, a delicious story about girls trying to make their way to life. It may sound very general but, seriously, it is not such an easy task to work in the morning, look fine for the day and get the glamour look in the evening ready for the search of the one and only. Do not expect fairy tales with princes and frogs, but a lot of tips and stories from princesses with life experience. 
Of course (some) women should be independent and free and alone if they chose so, but just let the options free and respect everyone's choices. The events are following fast, like in a movie, because the Sarong Party Girls (SPG) have so many things to do. From trying a new bar where the supply of ang moh is always high to doing live research about how the girls from mainland China or the Philippines are getting their men nowhere else but in Singapore (a big problem it they might be worse than Jackie Chan), they are always busy. Plus, when they arrive back home in the morning in a limo to their modest governmental apartments where they live with their parents, expect to be faced by a curious or sad mother who is starting to lecture over and over again about what and why and with whom. Don't forget also about some lascive bosses and the danger of being sent to spent the rest of the active working years in a very boring office. No, it is not about money, it is about life choices. Serious life choices to be more precise.
Fann, Imo, Jazzy and Sher - the bubbling SPG, of course - do have one and only big plan: to land better than their parents. The biggest threat is to end up alone - or with an one - or more - gold tooth guy - and older enough to be refused the holy right of having a VIP table in clubs. Jazzy, who tell most of the story, seems the wisest one, always with some fresh short advice in the pocket. Like, for instance, 'if you want to meet guys, sometimes you must adventure a bit'. Only if you want to have Chanel babies and live overseas. Otherwise, there is always a supply of local guys, some of them outrageously rich and ready to spend couple of thousands for one fancy bottle of drink, and another one, and another one, till early in the morning. 
Another piece of advice from the wise Jazzy: "The thing about clubbing is, if you don't have some rich (or stupid) guy buying you drinks the whole night, your life is quite pathetic".
Wait to read a lot about drinks and clubs and some fancy places in Singapore, and much less about food. After reading it, it made me even more curious to visit the country one day. 
Although there is another book about fancy rich Singaporeans, the Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, 'comparaison fait pas raison' because the only common feature is that in both books there may be people outrageously rich. So what, it happens everywhere and this is not a reason enough to start making similarities, although it is such a human temptation after all. 
The stories are placed in Singapore and written in Singlish - a patois between different languages spoken there and English. At the beginning I was feeling that maybe it would have been good to have a small dictionary at the end, but I concluded that there is no need to, as you can easily understand what it is all about. And maybe also to make you curious to learn a couple the words yourself, just in case that, you know, you land in Singapore and you want to make a good impression. You never know...
The writing is sparkling and keeps you curious and with the spirit high. The language is colourful and wish there will be also an audio version of the book. Maybe a continuation too. 
The book will be published in July, and it is available for pre-order. 
Disclaimer: I was offered a review copy, but the opinions are, as usual, my own

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