Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan is a book I wanted to read for a long time but never quite got around to reading. Then I heard about the movie coming out in a few months based on the book–and that was all the encouragement I needed to finally pick this up. I’m so glad that I did! It was FUN from start to finish and so enjoyable to read.
Like the title suggests, it’s a book about fabulously wealthy Asians. Most of the action takes place in Singapore and follows the lives of three very wealthy, interconnected families–the Youngs, the Shangs and the T’Siens. Into their lives comes Rachel Chu, a New York college professor who has no idea that her boyfriend of two years, Nick Young, is seriously wealthy and connected back home. Plus he is one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors and has a meddlesome mother who will do anything to stop Rachel and Nick becoming a permanent item. Nick invites Rachel to Singapore for the wedding of his best friend (in what will be the wedding of the year) and Rachel has no idea what she’s about to walk into.
Crazy Rich Asians is a clever, soapy, catty and entertaining look into a different culture and luxurious way of life. The characters are what makes this book great and Kevin Kwan crafts them with a cutting, satirical eye. There are a lot of characters to keep track of in this book which can be difficult at first. I was glad that there was a family tree at the front of the book. Still it did get confusing at times sorting out who was who. It was fun to see how different characters treated their wealth and the different hierarchy between the rich, the very rich and the off-the-scale rich. Some characters were miserly and penny-pinching, others splashed out on private jets. And as you would expect, all the money in the world couldn’t buy everyone happiness.
Kevin Kwan scatters footnotes throughout the book explaining different Singlish, Cantonese and Hokkien words and phrases that make up the text. Some of these footnotes are hilarious. You really do feel like a fly on the wall when reading this book. I’ve travelled a lot around Asia and even lived in South Korea for a few years, but I knew very little about Singapore other than they have a huge airport. This book makes me want to visit Singapore and try some of the food that is described throughout the book and visit some of the landmarks.
Immediately after finishing Crazy Rich Asians, I ordered book two and three in the series (China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems). The first book doesn’t really tie everything up so I of course need to find out what happens next to Rachel and Nick and all the other characters. I’m looking forward to seeing the film when it comes out.
Verdict: Read this if you want something witty, entertaining, exotic and fun with a cast of outrageous characters!