Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan are not subtle novels. There isn’t a lot of hidden subtext in them, they are about… well, crazy, rich Asians. Not ‘upper middle class’ Asians. More like ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Asians. These books are soap operas, really, about three Chinese families and the borderline insane terror they feel when one of the heirs brings home an ABC. An ABC, if you are not aware, is an American Born Chinese, and you can probably guess, this is not a good thing.
At the core, the story is about Rachel Chu (the ABC who is a PhD history professor in New York – duh, total loser) and her boyfriend Nicholas Young (the apparent heir to the entirety of Singapore or something?) traveling to Asia to attend a wedding. Even though they have been a couple for two years, Nick has conveniently forgotten to tell Rachel that he is indescribably wealthy and oh yeah, related to a whole gaggle of completely horrible morally bankrupt people.
Afraid that he may be about to marry this girl, Nick’s family and friends devise one scheme after another to make her as terrified as she frankly should feel considering marrying into this lot. To keep things interesting, every few pages there are private planes going to private islands and shopping sprees that are related with so much detail that I almost never want to buy anything else again as long as I live. Almost.
There isn’t much more to these books, honestly, but they are fun to read and a complete vacation for your brain from anything you could imagine being real life. It says something that I read them back to back – I rarely do this. Kwan hits my favorite pieces (details about food and illustrative information about Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, mainland China and Paris) hard and well. Rachel and Nick are good characters that stay consistently who they really are through two books and the outlying characters, especially Astrid and Carlton, are always welcome when they pop up.
Next time you’re looking to escape, this is a fun way. Not everything has to be War and Peace. And this isn’t.
Grade – B-