Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfrien...

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Title:Crazy Rich Asians
Author:Kevin Kwan
Rating:
ISBN:0385536976
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:416 pages

Crazy Rich Asians Reviews

  • Christine
    Apr 15, 2013

    I am Asian, I lived in Singapore, and I am not crazy rich - but I certainly heard of enough people on that tiny island who are. Ten years ago, I remember being addicted to a blog (now defunct) called "pinkshoefetish" where one Daphne Teo of Singapore documented every single materialistic extravaganza in her life - endless Tod's bags, Chanel, the luxurious apartment she (or her parents) rented when she was at Purdue (no stinky student dorms for her), her endless jet-setting to the most expensive

    I am Asian, I lived in Singapore, and I am not crazy rich - but I certainly heard of enough people on that tiny island who are. Ten years ago, I remember being addicted to a blog (now defunct) called "pinkshoefetish" where one Daphne Teo of Singapore documented every single materialistic extravaganza in her life - endless Tod's bags, Chanel, the luxurious apartment she (or her parents) rented when she was at Purdue (no stinky student dorms for her), her endless jet-setting to the most expensive hotels and restaurants in New York, London, Paris, etc. At that time, I wasn't even sure I could afford to go to college, so Daphne's blog was pure escapism (if not a source of resentment). I don't remember what her parents did to afford that lifestyle, but anyway, my point is - the crazy rich Asians of East and Southeast Asia do exist, and man do they live large. When I saw that a Singaporean had written a novel about them, and that it was in the hands of a major NYC publishing house, I couldn't wait to read it, to see what had caught the attention of these editors, so much that they were willing to take on a book about Asians, set in Singapore.

    I got an ARC of the book from eBay and devoured it in two days. And, perhaps I am biased because of who I am and my (slight) exposure to that world, but I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT. It satirizes the crazy rich Asian universe, but even with the exaggerations, my college friend, who is part of the Hong Kong version of the Wealthy Asian Club, would recognize so many aspects depicted in the novel - the lightning speed at which gossip travels, the focus on bloodlines and marriage, the clash between old money and new, and - most important I think - the tension between mainland Chinese and overseas Chinese, a phenomenon that is very real, very common, very much discussed in Asia, but pretty much unheard of in the West. When Singaporean Chinese "blue blood" Nick takes his American Chinese girlfriend Rachel home, his family is concerned that, yes, she might be a gold-digger, but their suspicions are heightened by the fact that she was - to their horror - born in mainland China, to a single mother (more strikes against her!). I laughed when I read that, because I was brought up in Asia where those prejudices are part and parcel of everyday life, but an American reader might find it offensive and racist - which it is, but in a "Chinese" sort of way that is not so much about hatred. The book shows how those prejudices are challenged as mainland Chinese grow richer and more influential, and the author sympathetically portrays both sides.

    As for the actual storyline - it's a roller coaster ride that might be hard to keep up with at the beginning because of how many characters are introduced (and I always had my finger on the family tree Kwan provides in the book). I found it ridiculous that Nick and Rachel could have dated for years without her finding out about his background, but this

    chick lit and so I willingly suspended disbelief and just let myself get carried along into the world of

    and

    . Kwan's writing is clear and breezy and skips along very well, and in the end I was left feeling like Rachel must have when she was plunked into this whirlwind world - amazed, dizzyfied, enlightened.

    And it makes me want to go back to Singapore.

    A great summer read!

    (Oh - the gold and pink hardcover release is cute, but I love how the galley cover plays with the Hermès box design. Clever!)

  • Louise
    May 25, 2013

    They are crazy and they are rich. That is pretty much all I got out of it. 10% in and I can't stand to read any more of this vapid book. Somehow it was not the guilty pleasure I was looking for. Returning it back to the library.

  • John
    Jul 09, 2013

    Ouch! Moved to Singapore from the USA 30 years ago, met a Singapore Girl and drank the Kool Aid. Singapore is somewhere between Nirvana and Utopia, civil society, great education system and FOOD to die for. Sadly, this roman a clef hits close to home and raises the curtain on the behavior of ultra rich Ferrari driving jet setters. But it's hilariously funny and contains a wealth of Hokkien swear words to enrich your vocabulary. When I asked the tai tai for translations I almost got my face slapp

    Ouch! Moved to Singapore from the USA 30 years ago, met a Singapore Girl and drank the Kool Aid. Singapore is somewhere between Nirvana and Utopia, civil society, great education system and FOOD to die for. Sadly, this roman a clef hits close to home and raises the curtain on the behavior of ultra rich Ferrari driving jet setters. But it's hilariously funny and contains a wealth of Hokkien swear words to enrich your vocabulary. When I asked the tai tai for translations I almost got my face slapped. Don't think graduates of Anglo Chinese School will like this book. It gets down and dirty.

  • Djrmel
    Jul 26, 2013

    Interesting and fun setting, described by an author who obviously knows his subject. That's the end of my positives. In fact, some of the negatives are in the positives. If I'm using the word "describes" in a review of a novel, the author has done something wrong. I should be a part of the world he's put his story in, I shouldn't be conscious of the fact that he's telling a story. Also, the authors knowledge of his subject is made clear when he starts putting his personal experiences in the chap

    Interesting and fun setting, described by an author who obviously knows his subject. That's the end of my positives. In fact, some of the negatives are in the positives. If I'm using the word "describes" in a review of a novel, the author has done something wrong. I should be a part of the world he's put his story in, I shouldn't be conscious of the fact that he's telling a story. Also, the authors knowledge of his subject is made clear when he starts putting his personal experiences in the chapter footnotes (which also act as a a lazy way to use native language). Then there's the method of story telling through chapter POV. This works when 1) an author truly stays in that one character's head for the entire chapter and 2) Character's POV are needed for the story and not just because the author had a scene he couldn't bring himself to cut from the book even though it adds nothing but fluff to the book. Kwan fails miserably at this style of story telling. Finally, my largest complaint about this book: shallow characters do not mean shallowly written characters. The people,e of Kwan's book disappear when they aren't on the page you are reading. There's not a hint of life when they aren't actively in the story, they are what we are told they are and from each one's introduction there's nothing to allow you to see them any other way.

  • Christi Cassel
    Aug 04, 2013

    From

    Lest you be confused, this is not a book about crazy [comma] rich Asians. This is a book about crazy rich Asians. As in, stupidly, stupidly wealthy gazillionaire Asians. I had read an excerpt in Vogue, and it seemed like it might be good, fun summer reading, filled with fashion and snobbery and such. I am a lover and regular devourer of US Weekly, who loathes the fact that I do not come from a ton of old money, so this seemed right up my alley.

    When I

    From

    Lest you be confused, this is not a book about crazy [comma] rich Asians. This is a book about crazy rich Asians. As in, stupidly, stupidly wealthy gazillionaire Asians. I had read an excerpt in Vogue, and it seemed like it might be good, fun summer reading, filled with fashion and snobbery and such. I am a lover and regular devourer of US Weekly, who loathes the fact that I do not come from a ton of old money, so this seemed right up my alley.

    When I got the e-book, however, I knew immediately that I’d been swindled. Before I had even begun reading, the book had two strikes against it:

    Strike 1: it starts with a family tree, and

    Strike 2: it has endnotes.

    I just can’t get excited about a book that begins with a family tree. Now, before you get all up in arms and point out all the delightful and amazing books that begin with a family tree, I will admit that this is not a hard-and-fast rule. But my general opinion is that a book’s cast of characters should not be so convoluted that it requires a visual aid (one of the reasons I am content to stick with the television version of Game of Thrones, thank you very much). Plus, when you’re reading an e-book, it’s a huge hassle to have to refer back to the family tree. So, I audibly groaned when I discovered that this book has one. It’s a book about rich people. How complicated can it be? But the Crazy Rich Asians family tree is kind of catty and fun, so I decided to keep an open mind.

    The endnotes aren’t a deal-breaker here, either. Normally, I hate them because they break up the flow of my reading. Also, they make me feel like I’m back in law school. And, too often, they’re used for cutesy purposes, which is nearly impossible to do well. That said, e-books make them slightly more tolerable, because you can just click on the endnote and it magically appears (constant page flipping in a “real” book is just too much). And these endnotes in particular aren’t bad, because they are in large part: 1) translations of Hokkein and Malay words and phrases and 2) descriptions of Singaporean foods. I’m a foreign languages nerd and a lover of delicious foods, so I didn’t hate the endnotes.

    But all of that doesn’t matter. Because, family tree and endnotes aside, I still didn’t like the book. Here are three more strikes against it:

    Strike 3: It’s too damn long (over 400 pages). The book is about a couple (Rachel and Nick) who are both profs at NYU and have been together for two years. Nick is going home to Singapore for his best friend’s wedding and asks Rachel to come with him. Despite the fact that they’ve been together for two years, Rachel knows nothing about Nick’s background and family and friends (it comes as a complete surprise to her that his family is crazy rich). Shocking excess and extravagance ensue. And (not even remotely a spoiler, because the book is so ridiculously predicatable) Nick’s mother and grandmother try to break Nick and Rachel up. WHY DOES THIS NECESSITATE 400 PAGES? It doesn’t.

    Strike 4: People have described this as an amazing, hilarious satire. Basically, the book tries to make fun of crazy rich Asians, by showing that they’re snobby and elitist and old-fashioned. Well, I’m sorry, but my grandmother was not a crazy rich Asian (she was just a plain-old crazy Asian), and she was every bit as snobby, elitist, and old-fashioned as the grandmother in this book. The author manages to paint a picture of the fashion and houses and such that is completely over-the-top, but his characters are flat, flat, flat. They just weren’t well developed enough to make you give a shit.

    Strike 5: The plot is boring and predictable.

    Rating: 2/5

  • Katie
    Aug 24, 2013

    I think another Goodreads reviewer said it best: "Shallow characters don't mean shallowly written characters."

    And in the case of this book, the author didn't pick up on that memo. Shallow characters can be delightfully, wickedly compelling when they're written well. I mean, look at Anthony and Gloria in Fitzgerald's "The Beautiful and Damned", or Becky Sharp in "Vanity Fair" or heck, even Blair Waldorf in the "Gossip Girl" series if you're looking at more "chick-lit" examples. But the characters

    I think another Goodreads reviewer said it best: "Shallow characters don't mean shallowly written characters."

    And in the case of this book, the author didn't pick up on that memo. Shallow characters can be delightfully, wickedly compelling when they're written well. I mean, look at Anthony and Gloria in Fitzgerald's "The Beautiful and Damned", or Becky Sharp in "Vanity Fair" or heck, even Blair Waldorf in the "Gossip Girl" series if you're looking at more "chick-lit" examples. But the characters in "Crazy Rich Asians" are so two-dimensional and flat you just can't care about them.

    Also, a pet peeve of mine is when a writer TELLS me something rather than SHOWS me something. This entire book is all tell, no show. Except to show off the author's knowledge of designer labels. Slow clap.

    Yes, this is a rather scathing review but I really don't understand all the hype surrounding this book, and I was hoping for more, well, substance (yes, from a glittery gold and hot pinkbook called Crazy Rich Asians, I know. But I think the setting and characters had some originality, timely relevance and promise and the author didn't deliver). Definitely disappointed.

  • Lauren
    Nov 02, 2013

    I have no closure.

    I’m not quite sure what that ending was, but it’s really only an ending by dint of the fact there are no more pages.

    I was enjoying this book. I could overlook the dull main characters, the hints of family drama and maneuvering that never went anywhere, the randomly dropped storylines … all of that, I could forgive because, hey, at the end of the day,

    is mindless fluff and thinking is contraindicated when reading mindless fluff. This mindless fluff, set among t

    I have no closure.

    I’m not quite sure what that ending was, but it’s really only an ending by dint of the fact there are no more pages.

    I was enjoying this book. I could overlook the dull main characters, the hints of family drama and maneuvering that never went anywhere, the randomly dropped storylines … all of that, I could forgive because, hey, at the end of the day,

    is mindless fluff and thinking is contraindicated when reading mindless fluff. This mindless fluff, set among the über-wealthy denizens of Singapore, was entertaining.

    But here’s the thing: part of why I like mindless fluff, part of why I keep reading it despite plot holes and ridiculous, unrealistic twists that drive me nuts, is that I’m guaranteed an ending. An honest-to-goodness (usually happy) ending.

    This book has no ending. What’s the point of reading mindless fluff without the satisfying conclusion?

    The “ending” is as follows: multiple plotlines left dangling for a cutesy Hollywood-style last shot that solves nothing, two surprisingly nuanced parallel subplots (especially for brain candy) that were slowly built are ignored at a key moment, and some unnecessary melodramatic twists are thrown in over the last few pages rather than diving into the drama and tension built up in the previous 380 pages of the book. No. No. No. No.

    I hate not having closure.

    This has to be the set up for a sequel, right? Because that’s the only thing that makes this ending even sort of acceptable (although, even if it is the first of a series, this book needed more in the way of a resolution). Quasi recommended (depends on how you feel about having endings to your stories).

  • Sue (Hollywood News Source)
    Nov 01, 2014

    I love it much better.

    September 24, 2015

    Crazy Rich Asians is outrageously fun and it gives you a close glimpse about their food obsessed culture, keeping the bloodline and legacy pure, old money and new money - classicism. This book also discussed the racial tension between Mainland Chinese and Overseas Chinese. If you’re looking for a

    I love it much better.

    September 24, 2015

    Crazy Rich Asians is outrageously fun and it gives you a close glimpse about their food obsessed culture, keeping the bloodline and legacy pure, old money and new money - classicism. This book also discussed the racial tension between Mainland Chinese and Overseas Chinese. If you’re looking for a refreshing read. I’d say pick it.

    Mini review can be found

  • Book Riot Community
    Apr 07, 2015

    When Rachel Chu agrees to go on holiday to Singapore with her boyfriend, Nick, she imagines that this will just be a fun summer, a chance to meet his family and see Singapore, before returning to the simple life they live in New York. But Rachel has no idea that Nick is Nick Young (of the Youngs, one of Singapore’s most established and wealthiest families). Rachel is thrown into a storm of gossip, money, interfering relatives, family secrets, and some seriously mean girls. The bonds of their lov

    When Rachel Chu agrees to go on holiday to Singapore with her boyfriend, Nick, she imagines that this will just be a fun summer, a chance to meet his family and see Singapore, before returning to the simple life they live in New York. But Rachel has no idea that Nick is Nick Young (of the Youngs, one of Singapore’s most established and wealthiest families). Rachel is thrown into a storm of gossip, money, interfering relatives, family secrets, and some seriously mean girls. The bonds of their love are tested, and Rachel must decide whether she can handle being in love with Nick, and therefore being tangled up in his family.

    This book was so, so, so much fun. Kwan’s writing style is snappy and electric, fizzing across the page and leading you ever further into this vivid world of designer clothes, exquisite architecture, amazing houses, and old family dramas. The characters in this book are the worst people, but I could not stop reading. I’m looking forward to the sequel, China Rich Girlfriend, due out in June from Knopf. — Dana Staves

    From The Best Books We Read In March:

    ____________________

    Holy crap, this book. It was 1) so fun, 2) such a good audiobook, 3) addictive, I could not stop listening. Even though the book was populated by a ton of unlikable characters, Kwan did an amazing job making sure that they were juuust evil enough that they didn’t actually make the book unbearable to read; the good characters, on the other hand, were people that you definitely wanted to root for. Lynn Chen’s narration was superb. Every character (and there were so many, with many different accents) had a different voice without being, you know, hokey. I stayed up late into the night with headphones on for this book.

    — Susie Rodarme

    from The Best Books We Read In May 2016:

  • Kelly
    Jun 04, 2016

    The review below covers the first two books in this series. There's not really any spoilers, its more an overall general impression, so you should be fine. But just FYI.

    Review originally appeared on my blog,

    .

    ***

    I've run into some great writers lately, which means I've been reading fewer of them. No sooner do I discover them than I tear through as much of their catalog as I can, immediately. Maybe it's just that I'm getting pickier and it's harder to find books that f

    The review below covers the first two books in this series. There's not really any spoilers, its more an overall general impression, so you should be fine. But just FYI.

    Review originally appeared on my blog,

    .

    ***

    I've run into some great writers lately, which means I've been reading fewer of them. No sooner do I discover them than I tear through as much of their catalog as I can, immediately. Maybe it's just that I'm getting pickier and it's harder to find books that fully engage me without turning on my critical brain and tearing it apart- but when I do, it's like striking gold. Kevin Kwan's first two Crazy Rich Asians books fell into this shiny category. I pretty much inhaled them whole over the course of a week in a series of positions on various soft surfaces, losing hours happily to them, just like I wanted. So I forgive a lot, but not everything.

    The story is a typical fish-out-of-water Cinderella tale, with Rachel Chu starring as our bewildered fish. Her boyfriend, fellow professor Nicholas Young, invites her to spend the summer in Singapore getting to know his family- without telling her anything at all about them. Like the fact that they are, indeed, crazy rich. And even more so, that they are part of what has come to be considered the hereditary upper-classes of the country, the sort with money so old that nobody is supposed to even remember where it came from. And so, of course, he is a secret prince of this society, with many a fair maiden on the catch for him! And there's court intrigue and to spare as we spend more and more time there. It becomes clear to Rachel that she is seen as a dirty, interloping Cinderella who will prevent the brilliant marriage his family considers is Nicholas' by right....!! The second book makes it even more complex- without spoiling you on anything, trust me, SECRETS WILL BE REVEALED.

    If it all sounds super melodramatic and movie-of-the-week-y, and exactly the plot you've read a thousand million times, you are correct. It is. But the novelty for many readers (readers who are non-residents of these countries anyway) will be the book's ability to open a window onto an aspirational culture that many of them have no hope of ever participating in (unlike the ones set in your typical Anglo diaspora countries, where many more English speakers can imagine themselves into it), or perhaps one that readers did not even pause to realize actually existed. Indeed, the book reads like half story, half explainer for the uninitiated into South Asian high society. There are footnotes! (When's the last time you read a brand-name filled Cinderella story with footnotes? Never. Never would probably be the answer.)

    And at first the world is completely fascinating. I love discovering how worlds operate, and if you have that similiar weakness, you'll really like a lot of this book. The most interesting part to me was seeing how privilege operates in countries with a history of colonization: what happens now that there is money and the privilege of actually controlling it yourself? (Well, they repeat the patterns of their colonizers, is some of the super interesting answer. The way they conceptualize class has been imbibed from the English like a disease, the same way you'd find similar ideas about old money in certain New York and Philadelphia families.) The other interesting thing to explore is, of course, not only that the people this book focuses on have money. They have INSANE amounts of money. They have more money than God. All the gods. There is so much money that spending a million dollars is like going out and buying an ice cream, something wives do on a whim and go "oops!" if they don't like whatever it was they spent it on, and throw it in the basement for a servant to maybe or maybe not find years later. There is so much money that characters refer to people as having "400 million dollars AT MOST!" and pity them like they are second class peasants. There is an absolutely AMAZING scene where a bunch of girls try to talk a friend out of marrying a guy she really likes (who is ONLY an executive, making nearly a million dollars a year) by listing all the expenses, with incredibly accurate math, of maintaining her current lifestyle until she break, realizing she will become exiled from everyone she knows. Oh man, I loved that scene so much.

    But the crazy richness does get sort of mind-numbing after awhile. Particularly if you tear through both books together, like I did. While there's some eye-popping pleasure watching a group of ladies lay waste to every luxury house in Paris, and it's absolutely incredible Kwan's ability to know exactly which brand is right for which moment, it became too much for me. It was so in your face it was hard not to be knocked out of the fascinating anthropological exploration into just seeing lists of brand names and fancy places and endless descriptions of wealth until it became less fascinating than absolutely nauseating. It's hard not to start doing calculations in your head about how many world problems could be solved with this kind of money and start wishing for some sort of revolutionary subplot where at least one of the daughters or sons of these people would go rogue and burn it all down- Rachel and Nicholas and their pious, middle class morality don't really cut it at all for me. (Look, I liked Madame Bovary, okay? I'm not that person.) I really don't think this was totally intentional. I think Kwan just sometimes got really carried away with it all and could sometimes get lazy and spend pages describing money and luxury objects instead of advancing plot or developing his characters. I mean, granted, dude, you have a great world to play in- I get wanting to glory in it- but maybe not until I can't remember what last happened to your character because its buried under a pile of Prada and 18th century teacups, you know?

    What kept me reading were the characters. Oh no, not the main characters though, which is super disappointing. Not Rachel and Nicholas- they were boring as hell, sorry guys. Perfectly fine, probably more moral than anyone around them in a conventional sense, but meh. Instead of feeling like my lifeline to sanity and my stand-ins and guides to the OMGWHUTness of this, they seems like a waste of space. My favorite by far was Astrid. Her conflict with her husband and her family was farrrr more interesting and mature than anything those two have going, as well as her outlook on life and all the people around her. And that held true even when I spent more time with her, which isn't always the case with initially mysterious characters. Kwan I think realized that a lot of people felt the same way, because we get a lot more of her in the second book (and I'm praying, even more in the third book, due out next year). Collette in the second book was also great, as was Charlie- I can't tell you more about them because spoilers, but rest assured you will be delighted with them and what they represent. And there were other characters I liked and we didn't see nearly enough of, like Nick's father, Collette's father, spoiler characters that I can't name because you have to read the first book, damn, but they are great! Basically, I liked all the people who had to actually live in this world and navigate it in their own way, trying to maintain some personal integrity in the circumstances, who weren't eaten alive by money, even if they were totally defined by it, if that makes sense. These characters are all super-aware of what their world is, and some of them are still struggling with it, some have made their peace, but all of them don't hide from the truths they live every day. It's far more interesting to watch that than all the outside, tsk-tsking disapproval you like, and everyone else is just dollar signs incarnate. I hesitate to praise Kwan totally for these characters because sometimes I felt like I liked these people just because they were the only ones he spent any time with (other than Rachel or Nicholas, who totally fail as main characters), before going back to talking about money some more. But some of it, at least, was skill for sure. His skill at rendering the minor characters proved that at least.

    (I think Kwan should try his hand with old-fashioned farce in the future, by the way. His handling of ridiculous characters and their great one-liners suggests he would be great at it.)

    Like I mentioned, there's a third book coming out. I'm really hoping that he'll veer away from the formula of the first two books- picking an Asian country to plant his boring main characters in and explaining how their class system works, interspersed with orgies of money- and really reward his readers by looking harder at the worlds he's already created and spending more time thinking about the best characters he's already shown, and showing more about how their world shapes them. I somehow doubt it- this is a book of its genre, and man people like a good formula, and like a formula with a twist even more. But there's enough good in here for me to wish that the author and publishers would allow this story to develop, rather than swimming in place. You've already got a lot of critics' ears with this series. Why not use it to show what you can do by playing with the conventions, rather than just playing anthropological tour guide?

    We'll see. I still recommend these in the end. But maybe space them out and maybe tone down whatever expectations you have after reading the reviews by about... oh 20%. It's pretty good, but simmer down just a little bit about it.