Crazy Rich Asians Book Review

I listened to Crazy Rich Asians with a friend while driving down to Florida a few weeks ago and it made the trip fly by. While it is definitely a fun read and light and fluffy, there are also really interesting aspects to it that I wasn’t expecting – in particular the insight into Singapore and Singaporean elite culture.
This book is a tongue in cheek look at the old money Singaporeans and contrasts it to “new wealth” Mainland Chinese, as well as to all the rest of us. The premise is simple: a history professor at NYU has to return to Singapore for the wedding of his best friend and asks his girlfriend of two years to go with him. He has kept his ultra-wealthy background a secret from her and has lived a fairly low-key life in New York. Nothing prepares her for her introduction to Singapore and the scrutiny she comes under from his family and the rest of his circle once she arrives. Mayhem ensues, competition for her beau’s affection abounds, and she is completely stunned by everything she sees and experiences.
Kwan is incredibly detailed in his descriptions of life among the uber-elite in Singapore. Their wealth goes back farther than the Europeans and certainly makes old-money North Americans look like nouveau riche. He has an excellent way of developing all his characters including his main character, Nick, who, having grown up with enormous amounts of wealth doesn’t understand what the big deal is. His naiveté gets him into a lot of trouble with his girlfriend (who provides the normalcy in the book). The other characters around them are well-developed and also fascinating.
It is a great story, really, it’s a family saga, and provides more depth and insight than you might be expecting from a book that is also fun and entertaining. It also makes me want to visit Singapore, a country I hadn’t really considered before. I am looking forward to reading China Rich Girlfriend.

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