Monday, November 7, 2016

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan is the author of the novel Sarong Party Girls. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your novel and for your main character, Jazzy?

A: “Sarong Party Girls” is a -- slightly derogatory -- term that refers to a type of woman in Singapore whose main goal in life is to meet, date and perhaps marry an expat Caucasian man.

As Jazzy and her cohorts explain in this book, the ultimate goal is to have a “Chanel baby” -- a half expat, half Singaporean child that is such a status symbol it is the “Chanel of babies.”

I find that term -- which I actually heard from a girlfriend in Singapore, though spoken in jest at the time -- hilarious and think it says a lot about hyper materialism you can sometimes see in modern Asia, and perhaps, how race and class fits into all of that.

This is a book I've probably had in the back of my mind for years because I've always found Sarong Party Girls and the culture around SPGs completely fascinating -- this little subculture in Singapore, to me, says something possibly significant about the ​country and the gender and racial politics of the place.

Why is it that there exists a certain type of woman who sees status and material value in having a Caucasian husband or boyfriend? What are the forces of our history -- colonial or otherwise -- that have shaped this desire and belief in the value of Caucasian-ness?

Seeing SPGs and peering in at SPG bars in Singapore when I was a teenager always made me...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue