Monday, July 29, 2013

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Rich boy meets down to earth ABC (American Born Chinese) girl in NYC and brings her home to his crazy rich Asian family in Singapore.

Cue a clash of cultures, generations and fashions ensues! 

Kevin Kwan’s delicious romp of a book is best described as Joy Luck club meets Pride and Prejudice meets Dynasty.

Needless to say the overtop bling book cover totally matches the over top story.

This hilarious satirical book skewers the tensions and pretensions between the established crazy rich old families and the newly rich from mainland China.

The story begins with Nicholas ‘Nick’ Young, from the venerated Young family, who decides to bring his new girlfriend Rachel Chu home to attend the wedding of this best friend Colin Khoo.

Rachel has no idea that Nicholas is from a crazy rich Asian family and it is through her eyes that the reader discovers the excessive lifestyles of the unbelievabley rich in Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Nick is part of three intertwined super rich families who are connected through marriage and money. This is an environment where no-one blinks at owning a private jet with a yoga studio or a yacht with a bowling alley that turns into a catwalk. Cray cray!!!

While the novel drops brand names like there is no tomorrow, I loved the fact that it is also drops food names with mouth-watering descriptions of Nyonya (Straits Chinese) and Peranakan food.

It picks up on the obsession with food in Singapore, as the characters argue about where to get the best laksa. I know you'll love these these parts of book Tseenster!

It is also full of slang-lah from Malay and the Cantonese and Hokkien dialects of Chinese that is explained in the sometimes snarky, always amusing and witty, footnotes.

In between all the high gloss, I liked the way Kwan picks up on the subtleties of Chinese manners and customs. 

The first chapter is a particularly delicious example of what happens when a snooty English hotel receptionist  dismisses the Young family. No one puts the Youngs in the corner!

My only issue with the book is that it was just a bit too long and dragged towards the end. Also one of the main characters, Astrid (Nick’s cousin), storyline is totally boring.

But this one minor quibble in an page turning outrageously fun book.

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