cover image Dial A for Aunties

Dial A for Aunties

Jesse Q. Sutanto. Berkley, $16 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-33303-7

In Sutanto’s bonkers debut, a series of disasters befalls a family wedding catering business. Meddy Chan, 26, works as the photographer for her overbearing, superstitious Chinese Indonesian aunties and mother. Convinced there’s a curse that causes men to leave the women of the family and crushed by an obligation to remain near her mother in San Gabriel, Calif., Meddy breaks up with her soul mate, Nathan. She’s still not over him when her mom arranges a date for her with a man named Jake, who attempts to rape her, prompting Meddy to tase him. Jake doesn’t wake up, and Meddy turns to her aunts for help. They store Jake in a cooler, which is then inadvertently shipped to the Chans’ next wedding gig, at a hotel that happens to be owned by Nathan. Plenty of hijinks ensue, but the Chans are oddly glib as they try to keep Jake hidden, and Meddy’s pining over Nathan feels trite. The best parts are Sutanto’s portrayal of the bantering, interfering aunties (“ ‘How could you set Meddy up with such a douchebag?’ Fourth Aunt snaps at Ma”), who excel at wreaking havoc. There’s plenty of light entertainment here, but don’t expect anything with bite. Agent: Katelyn Detweiler, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Apr.)