Regrettably so, I’m a year late in picking up Kevin Kwan’s delightfully delicious debut novel Crazy Rich Asians, but his book certainly hasn’t lost traction and popularity (I had to put it on hold at the library just to snatch a copy). This Friday, May 6th, marks its one-year anniversary since its exciting release. Many of you have probably read Paula Nikolai Iriola’s review from earlier last year, and if you haven’t already, check it out! While Kwan’s book is certainly reminiscent of a modern F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby meets Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl, his unique blend of cultural stereotypes proves Crazy Rich Asians is worth a sampling taste.
What with the casting call of Vancouver’s newest proposed show Ultra Rich Asian Girls of Vancouver, it seems exceedingly appropriate to discuss the real crazy rich Asians… of Asia. Kwan’s story revolves around Nicholas Young, a seemingly normal New Yorker, who decides to take his girlfriend Rachel Chu back to Singapore for his best friend’s wedding. No doubt his actions scream a million cultural innuendos that spread like wildfire to the horror of his controlling mother, Eleanor Young. Little does Rachel know, she is dating one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors whose riches (and not to mention connections) could circle the globe a few times over.
So we follow Rachel into a whirlwind mess of rich Asian mean girls and extravagant bachelorette parties with all of Singapore’s richest and wealthiest, who are all celebrities in their own right. Our mouths water at the mention of satay and char kuay teow, and we hungrily follow, not just for the food, but for Kwan’s delectable wit and his uncensored unfolding of this lavish culture. Amidst the battle of old and new money, Rachel must decide if this lifestyle — Nick’s lifestyle — is one she can live with.
I loved Crazy Rich Asians, and I couldn’t put it down, but I felt that Kwan’s ending was a little botched: after the hell she goes through, Rachel conveniently forgives Nicholas’ actions after he flies her mother in from the States, tying up the story neatly and swiftly. Nevertheless, Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians will either make you miss Asia (if you’ve ever been before), or make you want to visit it (if you haven’t already). And while you will silently abhor the money-and-status-obsessed women and men in the novel, your curiosity for the lifestyles of the crazily rich will be satiated and you may even find yourself sympathizing with the not-so-fortunate characters Kwan has been generous enough to offer. By the end, you might even start adding lar‘s and alamak‘s at the end of your sentences.
Soon we’ll be able to see these crazy rich Asians on the big screen. Color Force (known for The Hunger Games) and Ivanhoe Pictures (which established a 4-year deal with Fox International Pictures to produce local language Asian films) are co-producing this all-Asian cast film, and, boy, does it look promising.