Sunday, 1 September 2013

Listings / Book Club: Crazy Rich Asians / Kevin Kwan

I've decided to try to offer listings of literary events across Asia, excluding West Asia / The Middle East, but extending west to east from the Indian Sub-continent to Japan, and north to south from Mongolia to the southern tip of the Indonesian archipelago.

I will accept listings up to three months before the event takes place.  If you would like to have an event included please e-mail details to  Please state the month of the event in the subject line, and specify that this is a listing, e.g. September / listing.   Please provide the following information:

Date of event
Nature of event and a brief description. E.g. book launch plus a 100 word description
Venue for event with both a complete real world address, and a link to the venue's website  / details of its Facebook page if these are available
Cost of event, if any, plus details of discounts, if any
Language of event
For booking and further information please contact...followed by relevant information

For a series or a course of events at one venue, or for literary festivals at multiple venues within one general area, please supply the start and finish dates.  For literary festivals, I will  give only the over-arching venue, e.g. Jaipur, Hong Kong, or wherever.

I have also decided to launch a book club.  I will select a book at the beginning of each month, and request that people post comments through the month.  I will then summarise these at the end of the month, plus give my own thoughts.

My first book club selection,  for September, is  Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan, a comedy about three super-rich Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occur when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his American Born Chinese girlfriend.

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn't know is that Nick's family home looks like a palace, that she'll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia's most eligible bachelors on her arm, she might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick's formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should - and should not - marry. Crazy Rich Asians is an insider's look at the Asian JetSet; a depiction of the clash between old money and new; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese. 

Crazy Rich Asians is published by Doubleday, in hardback, paperback, audio, and e-book formats. Color Force has acquired movie rights so it should be coming to a big screen near you sometime soon. 

So: what do you think?  Please do post with your opinions, and I'll share mine at the end of the month.


1 comment:

  1. Having read a glowing review in the FT recently, I was very eager to read Crazy Rich Asians, and perhaps that‘s why I felt slightly disappointed when I finished the book. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it – it’s a quick read, the story moves along at a brisk pace, there’s lots of humour, a touch of intrigue and a varied cast of characters. But the central premise – the materialistic streak that lies at the core of these people – rather missed the mark. Having lived in Singapore for over 12 years I have met plenty of aspiring Chanel handbag owners, young girls who prefer to live with mum and dad so they can spend an entire month’s salary on a bag, and I think an exploration of the insecurities that fires this sort of obsession would be more interesting than reading about the mega rich who, frankly, can afford any number of these luxury items anyway.

    My only other gripe is the need for footnotes and explanations which inevitably slows down the narrative. Local colour is part of the appeal of the book but I did find the explanations irritating and some incorrect statements really grated (silly, but Christian Loubertin shoes have red soles and Sauternes in not described as late vintage). I think he should have found another way to convey some of this detail.

    Even though I live here, I still wonder what it is that induces people to queue outside the LV shop, that drives them to hoover up Hermes on their trips to Paris, and now, to empty Bordeaux negociants warehouses of all the recent vintages. So I can’t help but feel that an exploration of this side of the crazy rich phenomenon would have been more interesting than focussing on those who have it all because they can afford it all easily. But maybe that’s another book altogether…..


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