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Books Reviews

Last Tang Standingby Lauren Ho, #60 review

Book publication : 9 June 2020

Crazy Rich Asians meets Bridget Jones’s Diary in this funny and irresistible debut novel about the pursuit of happiness, surviving one’s thirties intact, and opening oneself up to love.

At thirty-three, Andrea Tang is living the dream: she has a successful career as a lawyer, a posh condo, and a clutch of fun-loving friends who are always in the know about Singapore’s hottest clubs and restaurants. All she has to do is make partner at her law firm and she will have achieved everything she (and her mother) has ever worked for. So what if she’s poised to be the last unmarried member of her generation of the Tang clan? She doesn’t need a man to feel fulfilled, no matter what her meddling relatives have to say about it.

But for a dutiful Chinese-Malaysian daughter, the weight of familial expectations is hard to ignore. And so are the men life keeps throwing in Andrea’s path. Men like Suresh Aditparan, her annoyingly attractive rival for partner and the last man she should be spending time with, and Eric Deng, a wealthy entrepreneur whose vision for their future is more lavish than she could have imagined. With her workplace competition growing ever more intense, her friends bringing dramas of their own to her door, and her family scrutinizing her every romantic prospect, Andrea finds herself stretched to the breaking point. And she can’t help but wonder: In the endless tug-of-war between pleasing others and pleasing herself, is there room for everyone to win?

Last Tang Standing has been raving the Asian Lit bookish world lately, it is written by a Malaysian author, which intrigued me to pick up this book in the first place since I am trying to support more local authors. Before I could haul ass to the bookstore, @times.reads kindly sent me a surprise review copy! Yay! Thank you so much, now on to the review.

Let’s start with the pros.
Our protagonist is Andrea Tang, a thirty-three-year-old successful lawyer who grew up in Malaysia and settled down in the glamourous district of Singapore. On the surface, she has it all – a posh condo, opulent friends, a luxurious lifestyle with the expensive wardrobe to match. However, there’s just one BIG problem – The Tang Family. As the last unmarried member of her generation in the affluent clan, she has to tolerate her relatives’ nips and nags about her being single af despite having a successful career(which was ignored because as a woman you are obliged to be a wife in the traditional families). Lauren Ho is a debut author whose writing showcases her roots in her humorous writing style and the slang of Malaysian/ Singaporean culture. I love how she gives detailed explanations of how the kiasu “grasping, selfish attitude” Singapore society functions so readers worldwide can understand the book. The book is written in a diary format, with dates and time. It makes it a fast and easy read. However, I recommend that readers take their time as you’ll want to savour Andrea’s sense of humour as much as you can. The representation was okay Chinese wise since Andrea is Chinese. Other races were casually mentioned but not a big part of the story which I find that the potential of broadening the representation was overlooked. We have Suresh Aditparan, who is a British-Indian lawyer that serves as the other love interest in the love triangle but his Indian culture is well, how do I put it. It is just there, it wasn’t pulled into conversations much, it was mostly on a shelf to be like “Helllooo, I am here, I signify something!”. A sad loss for the brown culture of both Malaysia and Singapore. In the end, the man hunting was too much for me. I don’t usually enjoy this kind of troupe. In my expectations, “Last Tang Standing” would mean that Andrea is the Last Tang to be Standing single, happy, and free from the chains of society and the norms it dictates.

Now,
the book started great! Like really good, I couldn’t put it down. As I was starting to learn about what Andrea’s world is like with her over the top friends and even more extra family, I was having fun simmering in the glittering chaos of her world. As I reach the second half of the book, Andrea started to be a tiny problem for me. As a thirty-three woman, who is also a lawyer, she is quite careless with her spendings despite how she constantly complains that half of her salary goes to paying for her posh condo and she barely has any savings. The fact that shows in her bank account is that she only makes just enough money to sustain her lifestyle monthly. Well! HONEY, that’s cause you don’t adult enough to manage your money. A lot of Andrea’s personality is driven by her choice of lifestyle. Lauren Ho used it well in the character development, the ending brought a change in Andrea and it remained the right amount of change in the character. Took the bad habits away and kept her witty approach to life.

All in all, Last Tang Standing is a book that’s worth a read to get different perspectives on it. Some love how it has a similar flavour to Crazy Rich Asians and some like me sees the missed potential. When we say ‘Asian’, we are putting ALL Asian people from ALL Asian countries under one title. No, Asians are not all the same. Which is why, I find that representation for the other Asian cultures were lacking. If we overlook that take on it, it is a pretty fun read, you’ll love the drama.

By elysianbooksish

The Bookish Faerie who loves to read and write, and bake too

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