In a world where money is no object and everyone has everything they can possibly afford…money is absolutely the object and no one is getting what they want. This is the world of Crazy Rich Asians.
In his 2013 debut novel, Kevin Kwan exposes the reality (er, how real is this?) of the elite Singaporean rich, rife with gossip, conniving, scandal, and rivalry. If you like reality shows like the Real Housewives or you've seen throwback episodes of The Hills, this book is right up your alley.
But richer. And dripping with jewels. And with even more petty, rich women meddling in their childrens' lives.
CRA catalogues a swirling world of people violating the principle "none of your business" as modest Nick Young bring his California-turned-New York girlfriend Rachel Chu home to Singapore to attend his best friend's wedding…and meet his family. This will be no-run-of-the-mill meet-the-parents sesh, though. Just warning you. Roll up your sleeves and take notes: it’s going to a bumpy ride.
The un-relatable lives of the Crazy Rich Asians are continued in two subsequent books: China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems. And if you're having trouble visualizing all the glitz and glam of the fashion designers mentioned throughout the book, be sure to check out the movie adaptation to see what all the name-dropping is really about.
Crazy Rich Asians is just swarming with intangible name-dropping and private jets. And you know what they say: mo' money, mo' problems.
But that's not all we have going on in this novel. If you look past the bedazzled outfits and swanky transportation, what Kwan has actually distilled for readers here is the transcendent challenge of families.
And that's something we can all relate to, whether we're driving a shiny new Ferrari or a hand-me-down '98 Honda Civic. Check it:
Do you think your mom is annoying when she asks about your crush? Does your dad embarrass you when he wears his socks too high? Kwan would want you to think again. He highlights the ways in which family and money affect the up-and-coming generation of the exorbitantly wealthy, where an older generation tries to impart its value system on a generation of Westernized 30-somethings.
The great tension exists—just as it has in all of our own homes—in whether parents are truly doing what's best for their children by forcing them into their own world. Is it that they fear change? Do they truly think their way is the best or only way? Or is there something deeper behind all these meddlesome parents?
Kwan gives us a bunch of versions of the classic "too-nosy mom" character to watch in Crazy Rich Asians, so we have plenty of opportunities to compare and contrast their styles, tactics, and motivations. This novel asks us to consider whether a mother is acting in her own self-interest when she is trying to provide a life she thinks is best for her kids.
Think about that next time your parents are bugging you. (Hey, maybe Dad just wants you try the high socks too. Better ankle protection, we guess?)
THE original film adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians
Released in August 2018, this adaptation delivers a diverse and inclusive cast, as well as glitz, glamour, and D-R-A-M-A.
Seattle Times Interview with Kevin Kwan
This offers great insights to Kevin's inspiration for characters and how his family feels about the books.
Kevin Kwan Talks NYC Food
Food dominates Singapore conversation: Kevin Kwan obsesses over NYC food, too.
Yeah, But Who is Playing Fiona Cheng??
Find out the cast members for the upcoming production of Crazy Rich Asians.
Kevin Kwan + Food = Love
Listen to this mouth-watering interview where Kwan talks about his favorite foods in Singapore and Sydney.
Oh, Now We See How Fancy You Are…
This gives us a sense of how much Kwan's childhood inspired Crazy Rich Asians.
Crazy Rich Asians: Nick & Rachel in Love
One of the movie posters for the film adaptation, featuring the lovebirds.
Glitzy Book Cover Alert!
Look at this fancy alternative cover to Crazy Rich Asians. It's basically the designer brand edition.
There She Is, Rachel Chu
Constance Wu woos as Rachel Chu.
Peik Lin in the Flesh
Awkwafina as Goh Peik Lin.
Shang Su Yi Meets Rachel!
This doesn't look anything like it does in the book…
Wait, what was the name of that street?
A map of Singapore can help you keep track of all the location switches.
Uh, what are the Mid-Levels?
A map of major areas in Hong Kong to make sense of a new locale.
How close is China?
A very basic map of Southeast Asia and China to get a sense of where in the world all of this is taking place.