Just-out-of-reach wealth is annoying to hear about. It’s tangible but it’s not something you have (or may ever have). But obscene wealth, the kind you couldn’t even make up in your dreams, is glorious. It’s luxurious. You’re here for the ride.
That’s how I felt, at least, about reading Kevin Kwan’s frothy novel, Crazy Rich Asians. Not only does American-born Chinese Rachel Chu, an economics professor, learn that her boyfriend comes from one of the wealthiest families in Singapore, but that Nick is also the single-most eligible bachelor in the country. Although that’s technically the plot, love defeating all else isn’t the point of the book -- the book showcases a different type of Asian culture that many Americans have not seen before. Kwan’s novel dismantles so many “Asian” stereotypes by showing the nuances of different countries and cultures within the ultra-rich class, which itself is nuanced. Rachel is simply your eyes and ears (and mouth, as Kwan takes careful consideration when describing the local delicacies).
This brings me to my big criticism of the book: the characters are very one-note. The Good Characters are always good: They are always understanding and still gracious under difficult circumstances. People aren’t always like that! The Bad Characters are arch and generally lack self awareness. My argument against this, however, is that these characters are just an entry into this elite world, which is its own character. I don’t care which cousin was exiled to California; I just want to read about private flights to Paris and illicit affairs! Kwan’s footnotes feel like he whispered sweet, sweet gossip in your ear.
Overall, Crazy Rich Asians is a fun read! Don’t take it (or their use of money) too seriously.