Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians’ is a riotous romp through Singapore’s super loaded elite. An epic bitchfest of putdowns, family politics, pricey real estate, and piled-on designer labels, it’s less chick lit, and more chic lit. The action centres on “ABC” (American Born Chinese) Rachel Chu’s summer trip to Singapore, to meet the family of her boyfriend Nicholas Young. Nick just forgot to mention that his family is insanely loaded. With the empathise on insane.
Kwan uses a few clunky turns of phrase (“[F]rom the dewy just-back-from-a-morning-run-on-the-beach complexion to the obsidian-black hair that stopped just short of her collarbone”. Oh, please.), and some of the encyclopaedic lists of designer goods, family riches and family connections can be tiring. But if you fancy an insider view of Singapore’s crème de la crème class (Kwan’s own privileged background is said to have influenced the book), with a healthy sprinkling of Cantonese and Mandarin slang, a fast-paced plot, a fascinating (and often downright nasty) cast of characters, and the sort of moneyed-up escapism favoured before we all became austerity aware, then this is the book for you. Perfect holiday reading. Though be warned if you’re reading it in the cold dark UK: it will make you want to jet off to somewhere hot (private plane, darling), and stuff your face with all the incredible food that’s described in mouth-watering detail throughout the book. Mmmmm satay.
Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan: A tasty 3.5/5