“Most Chinese parents, no matter where they are in the world, want their kids to bring home a mate of:
* Chinese ethnicity (trade-offs are tolerated in some families, but rare–however, likelihood of acceptance increases inversely the longer the errant offspring in question remains single).
* High earning capacity and/or wealth: MD or similar (Lawyer, Investment Banker, Consultant”). Otherwise, being rich and successful entrepreneur is also acceptable; legit royalty is, of course welcome.”
During the fun of Lockdown 2.0, I was looking for a more lighthearted read, and I saw my wonderful friend Amy post about Last Tang Standing. She absolutely loved it and as I trust her opinion completely, I immediately bought it. It was the perfect escape, and you can read my review at the end of this post.
I love discovering new authors and reading debut novels, and once I finished Last Tang Standing, I felt like I wanted to know more about what went into the story. Lauren Ho was kind enough to answer a few questions for me…
What was the inspiration behind Last Tang Standing?
I got my inspiration for Andrea Tang, the protagonist, from a stand-up comedy set I was doing about unconditional love and Asian parents (yes, I was an amateur stand up comic in Singapore–‘amateur’ being the key word–for two years). The rest came easily enough.
The characters in the story felt so vivid and real – who did you most enjoy writing about?
Thanks! They are indeed inspired by friends and frenemies I know, with just the right amount of fiction thrown in the mix so I can not be accused of libel.
I love Linda a lot. She’s my fave. She’s loud, bossy, in-your-face, and loyal AF when push comes to shove. I’m also very fond of Valerie, who’s a true romantic and optimist. All my characters have major flaws, like real people do–but they are essentially good people.
Do you think you’d write a sequel to LTS, continuing Andrea’s story, or would you prefer to write something new?
I have a sequel brewing, as well as a couple of standalone books (not necessarily in romcom genre). It all depends on which gets greenlit first 🙂
You previously worked as a legal counsel, what prompted the career change? Have you always wanted to write?
I didn’t enjoy the type of legal work I was doing in the end, so it was inevitable. As for writing, I’ve been writing short stories “competitively” since I was in high school, and have placed or was finalist in some local and international fiction writing competitions. And I’d always wanted to write and publish a novel. Last Tang Standing was the first novel I actually finished.
What’s been the highlight of your writing career so far?
Meeting people who’ve been touched by my book and its representation (even if they aren’t from this part of the world or have a similar cultural makeup), growing as a reader and writer….and getting DMs from my fave authors. Thanks to years of legal work, I’ve developed a pretty good poker face, but it never gets old. I love getting DMs and becoming friends with people who have inspired me.
If you had to pick one, what would you say is your favourite book?
The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy. I read it as an adolescent. This incredible book had a profound impact on me, and made me want to write; as for the author, I admire her passion and activism and really want to meet her in person. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like I can slide into her DMs.
When you aren’t writing (and when we aren’t in the middle of a global pandemic) what are your favourite things to do?
Travel. *Sigh*. Reading. Stand-up comedy.
Any tips for aspiring writers?
Read widely, not just across genres, but also cultures. Try new things, gain experiences and anecdotes that will enrich your writing. And definitely finish your manuscript: no manuscript, no talk!
A bonus question Lauren requested… 🙂
Are you funny, in real life?
Absolutely not. At family dinners, I’m the one they stick next to loud, racist older uncle, so that, like a Dementor, I sap his energy and he lapses into a sullen silence, wondering why he can barely muster the energy to recount one of his famous ‘funny’ anecdotes.
Review: Last Tang Standing (Lauren Ho) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Like all good Chinese children, Andrea Tang is doing her best to fulfil all her mother’s plans for her life: she’s on track to become partner at a top law firm in Singapore, she has an apartment in the right postcode and a boyfriend who is husband material.
But those plans are unravelling fast: there’s a new lawyer out to steal her promotion, her perfect boyfriend is now her perfect ex-boyfriend and the last single cousin in her family just got engaged, leaving her exposed to romantic meddling…
This was a really fun, enjoyable read – perfect for lockdown! I found it a bit of a slow burner at times, especially as I was 99% sure I knew where it was going so there were some points I found I was just eager to get there, but I loved getting to know Andrea and her friends. The book does deal with some tougher issues, including race and adultery which keeps it grounded, but it’s generally light-hearted and very funny. I really like Ho’s writing and I think she makes the characters feel very real.
Does this sound like your kind of book?