Crazy Rich Asians is a decent beach read for those looking for an Asian American beach read. It’s about a 30-year-old rich Asian dude named Nick Young from Singapore who is dating a middle class ABC girl named Rachel Chu. Nick’s best friend Colin is getting married in Singapore, and he invites her to go back with him. Little does she know that not only is he fabulously wealthy, probably a billionaire, but he’s also a celebrity back in the home country. Hilarity ensues as jealous Singaporean girls try to break them up and as Nick’s family conspires to get their darling boy to dump the commoner ABC chick.
I couldn’t stop turning the pages for the first 35% of this book. It was interesting to see how the filthy rich in Singapore live, how they drop labels and struggle to maintain their social standing, how family ties mean so much. Kwan wrote the story as a fictional novel, but he also adds in lots of footnotes that describe the history of Singapore and translate the Hokkien, Cantonese, and Malay words that the people of Singapore use in their day-to-day lives. Kwan also includes personal notes that describe his own life growing up as a wealthy dude in Singapore (he now lives in New York).
I struggled with the second 65% of the novel, as this commoner reader got weary of the designer labels, airplanes, yachts, and everything that the young jet-setters liked. This reader probably would have liked to see a bit more character development and a less hackneyed plot. The dialogue was painful to read. This reader was also sad that the book didn’t really have an ending and that he might have to buy the sequel to find out what happens (although this reader was, like Nick’s family, convinced that Nick and Rachel really didn’t belong together). But in all fairness, this book was marketed as pop lit or chick lit, and that’s what it was. It does a fairly good job of being what it is, and I’m predicting that this book will be the next NY Times bestseller.
Good beach read, and it was cool (as always) to see Asian and Asian American protagonists living life. Check it out for the experience of something new, or to learn about the history of Singapore. If you have Singaporean or Malaysian friends, you can learn about their history and language. From seeing some other reviews, lots of people think it’s damn shiok!