Kyla ZhaoFeb 23, 2023
The Fraud Squad
Berkley Books 2023
Can anyone break into high society? From Cinderella, Eliza Doolittle and Jay Gatsby to Don Draper and Anna Sorokin, characters that can fool their way into the elite through their smarts, willpower and chutzpah help us pierce the pretensions of the rich.
Kyla Zhao, in her debut novel, The Fraud Squad (Berkley Books: 2023) creates her own version of the character in Samantha Song, a harried writer at a Singaporean public relations firm who embarks on a scheme with a close friend and a very handsome and wealthy acquaintance to break onto the city’s social scene in just three months.
But The Fraud Squad is Singaporean: Samantha drinks kopi, swelters under the summer heat, lives in an HDB flat and deals with overbearing Asian parents–a different setting than what readers might normally experience. You can purchase the book here.
In this interview, Kyla and I talk about Singapore, its elite society, the glamor (or lack thereof) in the publishing industry–and why audiences may finally be ready for works by Asian and Asian-American authors.
Born and raised in Singapore, Kyla Zhao graduated in 2021 from Stanford University. Right now, she works in marketing at a tech company in Silicon Valley, California. Besides novel-writing, Kyla has an extensive magazine editorial portfolio. Previously, she was a fashion and lifestyle writer at Vogue Singapore. She has also written for the Singapore editions of Harper's Bazaar and Tatler, covered the Asian Television Awards, and interviewed personalities such as singer Nathan Sykes. She can be found on Twitter at @kylazhao_, Instagram at @kylajzhao, and TikTok at @kylazingaround.
You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of The Fraud Squad. Follow on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia.
Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.