When Kevin Kwan’s novel, Crazy Rich Asians (Doubleday, 2013) first came out and was all the buzz, I was completely uninterested. Sure I love Singapore and Hong Kong, but the world he writes about had absolutely no appeal to me. And, sure, I’d followed the society pages when I lived in Hong Kong, but that was just a passing phase.
Then I noticed a hardcover copy of the book on my 16 year-old son’s dresser. How did Jake get this book and did he like it? Turns out a friend from sleepover camp gave it to him last summer and he hasn’t had time to read it yet. So with the encouragement of my friend Christine, who read and loved it, I picked it up this weekend.
And I loved it so much, it’s now on my list of top-ten favorite books!
When I wasn’t laughing so hard I started crying, I was engrossed in the different story lines. The main characters, Rachel and Nick, are professors at NYU and travel to Singapore to attend the wedding of Nick’s best friend, Colin. Little does Rachel know that Nick’s family is crazy rich.
My favorite story line is that of Astrid Leong and Michael Teo. Astrid comes from a crazy rich Singapore family and falls head over heels for military man Michael. After he becomes a civilian, Michael starts a tech company and works hard to get it off the ground. But no matter how much he works, he will never be able to provide for his wife the way to which she is accustomed. And then one day she finds a naughty text on his iPhone!
There are some other sub-stories and lots of ladies scheming to keep Nick from marrying Rachel. It’s been a long time since a book has completely kept my interest, and this one did for all 403 pages. (It’s not that I don’t read; this was the 85th book I read this year. It’s just hard these days to find something I utterly love.)
My friend Christine asked what I thought about the Singlish and the Hokkienese/Cantonese/Malay/Mandarin terms sprinkled throughout the book (complete with English translations). She’d read that some people complained about being distracted by that. But to me, that was what made the book so special! When Hong Kong playboy Eddie Cheng tells his young son that he’s crazy for not knowing that two certain colors don’t go together, I almost spit my tea. To me, that scene would only work in Cantonese.
There were many other examples of this, and many in plain old English that had me in stitches. When the guys to go Macau for Colin’s bachelor party, one of them jokes about a trip to Cabo and the others gasp in disbelief–as if he would have gone somewhere so pedestrian. The whole book pokes fun at the world of the uber-wealthy and it’s hilarious.
Great news for fans! A movie version is in the works and Kwan will come out with a sequel this summer called China Rich Girlfriend (Doubleday, 2015). I cannot wait!