Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. Reviewed by Louise Hilton.
Rachel Chu, an economics professor in New York, agrees to accompany her boyfriend, fellow professor Nick, to his family home in Singapore for his childhood best friend’s wedding … only to discover Nick comes from one of the wealthiest families in all of Asia. And Nick? He’s one of Singapore’s most eligible bachelors. Poor Rachel – immediately dismissed by the more snobbish members of his family as an “ABC” (American-Born Chinese) – is woefully unprepared for the gossiping, in-fighting, and drama that ensue when she shows up on the arm of sought-after Nick.
Astutely touching on the antics of the idle rich, the novel is a frothy, over-the-top look into a rarefied world where old money clashes with nouveau riche and family alliances reign supreme. Kwan’s knack for clever dialogue shines throughout, perfectly capturing conversations between society matrons, catty debutantes, and other party guests in the feverish days leading up to the wedding of the season. A particularly clever bit is when one mother admonishes her children to finish everything on their plates: “Don’t you know there are children starving in America?”
Reminiscent of Jane Austen and Edith Wharton in his insight into high society – and his biting but witty commentary – Kwan’s remarkable debut is the ultimate guilty pleasure.