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.
Read our reviewers' thoughts below.
Jowana says: Jesse Q Sutanto’s debut is a hilarious mishmash of genres and a charming peek at Chinese-Indo culture. Her humor shines as she switches from romantic comedy to cozy mystery as smoothly as an inscrutable auntie dishing out compliment and insult in one breath.
Reina says: It’s like Crazy Rich Asians—but with a dumping-a-dead-body twist! The middle chapters are rich with descriptions of Chinese-Indonesian wedding customs, blown up to lavish, filthy rich proportions.
Jowana says: Sutanto underscores that her book is not representative of the entire Asian community. “No single book can possibly represent such a large community of individuals,” she adds. Communities of people are not monolithic structures. In the same manner, not all stories about immigrants are the same. Not all of their stories are about pain. It is also consequential to celebrate their aspirations, foibles, and quirks — and that includes stashing corpses in plain sight.
Reina says: At this juncture, we need a mandatory disclaimer emphasising how the Filipino experience shouldn’t be conflated with Indonesian culture. One of the biggest challenges Asian voices have when breaking out into the mainstream is getting the Western world to understand that East Asia is not the same as Southeast Asia, and that Southeast Asian cultures are not one big blob of the same people.
Jowana says: Families help us soar and keep us grounded at the same time. It is a chaotic, persistent, and inescapable relationship. Meddelin had to learn to become more assertive and, in return, earn the respect of her mother and aunts. It is difficult to cut the cord that tethers us to our families, but mutual respect stretches it to a more acceptable distance.
Reina says: Dial A for Aunties feels familiar: the complex family dynamics, the respect (and sometimes co-dependence) on elders, the hesitation to move out from home as an adult. Though Filipino culture is not one and the same as Indonesian or Chinese culture, it’s still refreshing to see these themes—so close to our everyday lives—play out in a mainstream story.
Also, perhaps my favourite aspect of this book is its portrayal of a female-led Asian family. Hell hath no fury like an Asian matriarch!