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Dial a for Aunties
Cover of Dial a for Aunties
Dial a for Aunties
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"Sutanto brilliantly infuses comedy and culture into the unpredictable rom-com/murder mystery mashup as Meddy navigates familial duty, possible arrest and a groomzilla. I laughed out...
"Sutanto brilliantly infuses comedy and culture into the unpredictable rom-com/murder mystery mashup as Meddy navigates familial duty, possible arrest and a groomzilla. I laughed out...
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  • "Sutanto brilliantly infuses comedy and culture into the unpredictable rom-com/murder mystery mashup as Meddy navigates familial duty, possible arrest and a groomzilla. I laughed out loud and you will too.”—USA Today (four-star review)
    “A hilarious, heartfelt romp of a novel about—what else?—accidental murder and the bond of family. This book had me laughing aloud within its first five pages… Utterly clever, deeply funny, and altogether charming, this book is sure to be one of the best of the year!”—Emily Henry, New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read

    One of NPR's Best Books of 2021!
    One of PopSugar’s "42 Books Everyone Will Be Talking About in 2021"!
    What happens when you mix 1 (accidental) murder with 2 thousand wedding guests, and then toss in a possible curse on 3 generations of an immigrant Chinese-Indonesian family? 


    You get 4 meddling Asian aunties coming to the rescue! 

    When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate, especially when it is inadvertently shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working at an island resort on the California coastline. It's the biggest job yet for the family wedding business—"Don't leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!"—and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her auntie's perfect buttercream flowers.
    But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy's great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding all in one weekend?

Excerpts-

  • From the cover

    1

    Present Day

    I take a deep breath before pushing open the swing doors. Noise spills out, a cacophony of Mandarin and Cantonese, and I step aside so Ma can walk inside before me. It's not that I'm being nice-I mean, I am, but I'm also being sensible. Ma grew up in Jakarta's Chinatown, a place heaving with people, and she knows how to make her way through a crowd. Any crowd. If I'm the one leading the way, I'd be squeaking, "Excuse me-oh, sorry, Ah Yi-um, could I just-I have a reservation-" My voice would never be heard above the din, and we'd be stuck outside the restaurant forever. Or at least until the dim sum rush died down, sometime around 2 p.m.

    As it is, people surge behind Ma as she scythes a path through the throng of families waiting for their tables, and I would've lost her if I wasn't keeping a death grip on her arm as if I'm all of three years old. She doesn't bother stopping at the front desk. She strides in as if she owns the place, eagle eyes scanning the large dining hall.

    How can I describe the chaos that is a dim sum restaurant in the heart of San Gabriel Valley at 11 a.m.? The place is filled with close to a hundred round tables, each one occupied by a different family, many of them with three to four generations of people present-there are gray-haired, prune-faced Ah Mas holding chubby babies on their laps. Steaming carts are pushed by the waitresses, though if you called them "Waitress" they'd never stop for you. You must call them Ah Yi-Auntie-and wave frantically as they walk by to get them to stop. And once they do, customers descend like vultures and fight over the bamboo steamers inside the cart. People shout, asking if they've got siu mai, or har gow, or lo mai gai, and the Ah Yis locate the right dishes somewhere in the depths of their carts.

    My Mandarin is awful, and my Cantonese nonexistent. Ma and the aunts often try to help me improve by speaking to me in either Mandarin or Indonesian, but then give up and switch to English because I only get about 50 percent of what they're saying. Their grasp of the English language is a bit wobbly, but it's a heck of a lot better than my Mandarin or Indonesian. It's yet another reason why I find it extra hard to order food at dim sum. More often than not, everything good is gone by the time the Ah Yi notices me and understands my order. Then all that's left is the lame stuff, like the doughy vegetarian dumplings or the steamed bok choy.

    But today, ah, today is a good day. I manage to get my hands on two lots of har gow, something that Big Aunt will certainly appreciate, and I even get hold of lop cheung bao-Chinese sausage rolls. Almost makes the whole ordeal of coming to weekly dim sum worth my while.

    Big Aunt nods her approval when the Ah Yi puts the bamboo steamers down in the center of our table, and I feel an almost overwhelming need to beat my chest and crow. I got those shrimp dumplings! Me!

    "Eat more, Meddy. You should keep your strength up for tomorrow," Big Aunt says in Mandarin, plopping two pieces of braised pork ribs on my plate while I carefully place dumplings on everyone else's plates and pour them tea. Second Aunt cuts the char siu baos into two each and places one half on everyone's plate. The table being round means all the dishes are equally within reach of everyone, but Chinese family meals aren't complete without everyone serving food to everyone else, because doing so shows love and respect, which means we all need to do it in the most attention-seeking way possible. What's the point of giving Big Aunt the biggest siu mai if nobody else notices?

    "Thank you, Big Aunt,"...

About the Author-

  • Jesse Q Sutanto grew up shuttling back and forth between Indonesia, Singapore, and Oxford, and considers all three places her home. She has a Masters from Oxford University, but she has yet to figure out how to say that without sounding obnoxious. Jesse has forty-two first cousins and thirty aunties and uncles, many of whom live just down the road. When she's not writing, she's gaming with her husband (mostly FPS), or making a mess in the kitchen with her two daughters.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine Multilingual Risa Mei is the perfect narrator for this combination mystery/rom-com involving Indonesian-Chinese-American Meddy Chan, her mother, and her Aunties. The author's introduction states that the Aunties' broken English straddles a fine line between authenticity and stereotype and is not a reflection of their intelligence; this note is important in our age of cultural sensitivities. Mei is masterful at creating personalities for the Aunties, as well as voicing Meddy and the male characters. While the plot requires one to completely suspend disbelief, it provides insight into a culture that values family, respect for elders, and superstition. The story begins with Meddy's mother setting her up for a date that ends with the discovery of a dead body. Mayhem ensues. E.Q. � AudioFile 2021, Portland, Maine

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