Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich AsiansCrazy Rich Asians
by Kevin Kwan, Fiction (Released June, 2013)
Bottom Line: Skip it.
 Three old money Chinese families engage in snobbery and backstabbing when Nick Young, the heir to a billion dollar fortune, brings home his ABC (American Born Chinese) girlfriend.
My Thoughts: When I first considered reading this book, I had assumed it was nonfiction. It’s actually a roman a clef written by a Chinese author that went to one of the “prestigious” schools in Singapore. One thing I love about roman a clefs is trying to figure out which real people the characters are based on. I am (obviously!) far removed from the Asian billionaire scene, so part of the fun was missing for me. At least if it had been about NYC, I might have been able to play the game a bit based on what I learn from reading Page Six! The reader is obviously supposed to be shocked and awed by these people’s excess and deviousness, and I certainly was in the beginning. But, once that wears off (which is quickly), they just become tiresome characters to read about. I think the excess and ridiculousness would come across much better as a movie or TV series…maybe in a style/tone like “Best in Show”. Initially, Kwan introduces lots of characters very quickly without much background – and most of them are related, which makes it hard to follow. Also, this topic could have been great fodder for lots of witty dialogue and Kwan missed the boat on that. That being said, I did enjoy learning about billionaire Asian culture, particularly their views on marriage and prejudices amongst fellow Chinese. For example, Chinese born outside China (Singapore or Hong Kong) look down on “Mainland Chinese” and ABCs (American Born Chinese). Finally, the story actually did get a bit suspenseful towards the end with some unexpected twists that gave the book a bit more depth. All in all, Crazy Rich Asians wasn’t horrible and was a somewhat entertaining read, but there are much better “crazy rich people” books out there.

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