Crazy Rich Asians, a book by Kevin Kwan, that will be soon coming out as a Movie.
Every once in a while, a book comes along that will completely surprise you. Crazy Rich Asians does just that. It is funny, fast-paced, outrageous and dramatic. This makes it a pleasant and refreshing change from the more serious literature in vogue these days.
As the name suggests, Crazy Rich Asians delves into the world of the crème de la crème of none other than Singapore and offers a fascinating insight into the crazy life of the millionaire population of this perfectly manicured Island.
It is a rich satire with money and materialism dripping off every page. The book holds more designer names than one can remember and outrageous shopping sprees. The story revolves around a unique mix of characters who are obsessed with luxuries, bizarre customs and absurd social rules. This, packaged with all the scandal and gossip, turns into a comedy of manners, and one entirely about Asian wealth.
CRAZY RICH ASIANS goes beyond the glamour
The lightning speed at which gossip travels, renders the story a fast-paced flow. The focus on the bloodlines and the clash between old money and new. While the book is full of glamour, over-the-top parties, designer homes and grandeur lifestyle, the writer has attempted to take a serious look at our society. He attempts to explain how wealth affects relationships. Such somber elements in the story make the opulence and craziness seem more realistic and relatable to everyday life.
Oprah’s top ten debut novels
This story about Asian wealth and social norms is creating a lot of buzz in the West and is soaring up best-seller lists worldwide. Hunger Games producer has snapped up the movie rights for Crazy Rich Asians, knowing very well that the story has all the elements to make a great movie. Oprah also marked the novel as one of ‘10 Dazzling Debut Novels to Pick Up Right Now.’
A young couple in love frame the heart of the novel. Nick and Rachel are university professors living in New York City. Nick hails from a vastly affluent Singaporean family. Rachel is what is called an “ABC” (American-Born Chinese). When she agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with Nick, she is clueless to what lies in store for her. She has no idea that Nick’s family home in Singapore happens to look like a palace. That she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that she will be attending the royal wedding of Asia.
Kevin Kwan – A childhood narrative?
This is the first book by Kevin Kwan; a Singaporean, who was very much part of the society he humorously describes. In Kwan’s own words, “I had a very fortunate upbringing. This book really is, in many ways, inspired by my childhood.” Kwan has done a great job at keeping the characters real and the situations relatable. His writing is clear and breezy and skips along very well. It really does take the reader on a tour of the island. Not only are the descriptions rich and detailed, but the conversations and internal thoughts of the characters are smart and witty. The story is told through numerous points of views, with each chapter based on one character. This writing technique works well, as each character tells his own story, his own problems and yes, his own idiosyncrasies.
Rich relatives, inquisitive friends and some genuine warmth
When Rachel and Nick arrive in Singapore, Rachel is scrutinized by Nick’s relatives and friends from many different angles. There is curiosity mingled with envy, gossipy camaraderie, inquisitive probing and occasionally: genuine warmth. Some of Nick’s relatives go to the extent of hiring private investigators to analyze her family background. Which, disappointingly for the snobs, consists of an ordinary single mother living in the States.
It does get a little hard to keep up with all the characters and their relationship to each other. Thankfully, Kwan begins the narrative with a very interesting family tree. He knows full well that the reader would need to refer to it. In spite of the superficial lifestyle we see, there is a tenderness to the characters, which is refreshing, be it the all-powerful grandmother, the gorgeous cousins, the eccentric friends or the well-meaning friend of Rachel and her hilarious family.
Will the ending be any different in the movie?
Rachel must ignore the conceited snobs in Nick’s family see him for the nice guy he truly is. She is surrounded by people who are so pitifully materialistic and insecure, not to mention Nick, who is completely oblivious to the dramatic actions of his neurotic family, She is left with only one friend by her side.
Can she hold on to her sanity in this roller coaster ride, where every day brings in a new drama?
The ending is not the best part of the book as it leaves quite a few loose ends; hinting that perhaps we can expect a sequel to this escapade.
In the end, Crazy Rich Asians provide the reader with a little bit of everything; love, romance, weddings and all the family drama that comes along with it. It can be best described as a funny, escapist trifle; letting some readers luxuriate in a familiar fantasy, with social rules and stereotypes. It may not be a piece of art but if you are looking for a fun, engrossing and escapist read, this is the book for you. Highly recommended for an entertaining and culturally enlightening read!