Sarong Party Girls novel picked up for digital screen adaptation

Book cover of Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-lien Tan.
Book cover of Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-lien Tan.PHOTO: HARPERCOLLINS

SINGAPORE - Cheryl Tan Lu-Lien's pulpy bestseller Sarong Party Girls is the latest novel by a Singaporean author to get picked up abroad for a screen adaptation.

Los Angeles digital content studio Omnia Media has optioned the rights to Tan's novel for an adaptation into a one-hour comedic drama series.

Tan, a New York-based Singaporean journalist, named her novel after the derogatory term for a Singapore girl who dates only white men.

The book, which was published by HarperCollins in July last year and is sold in the United States and Canada, features bold, brassy heartlander Jazzy Lim, who prowls bars and nightclubs with her friends, desperate to land a wealthy Caucasian before she passes her sell-by date.

It topped The Straits Times bestseller list for fiction for a record 31 consecutive weeks earlier this year.

Omnia's chief content officer Dan Lubetkin said in a statement that Sarong Party Girls was a "natural fit" to capture the attention of millennial audiences.

"In her book, Cheryl has created an amazing world that feels authentic, distinct and real," he added. "The rambunctious, free spirit lifestyle captured in Jazzy's character leaves the audience feeling as if they can identify and connect with her on an emotional level."

 

Tan, 42, told The Straits Times that she was thrilled. "(Omnia) really got the book and loved and understood the world of Jazzy as well as Singapore. The book is so nuanced in so many ways and I really wanted it to land in the right hands. I felt from the get-go that this was a good fit."

She said she was assured that the adaptation would be set in Singapore, and that as much as possible of the narrative and the characters would be preserved.

Other Singapore authors who have had their novels picked up for the screen recently include Singapore-born Kevin Kwan, whose Crazy Rich Asians has been made into a Hollywood film to be released next year, and Balli Kaur Jaswal, who sold movie rights for Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows earlier this year to Ridley Scott's production company, Scott Free Productions, and Film4.

Omnia, which creates original content for third party distributors, launched its digital production studio earlier this year.

Its current slate includes digital kids series Kings Of Atlantis, created in partnership with YouTube and released in March on YouTube Kids for YouTube Red subscribers.

Tan said the final form of the show - whether it will be for traditional television or a more digital release - is still under discussion. "'Digital content' means many things these days and it's exciting to be a part of this changing landscape of entertainment, and to be sharing a uniquely Singaporean story."