Kevin Kwan’s Cinderella-esque fairytale turned soap opera, “Crazy Rich Asians,” follows the adventures of Rachel Chu, a young American-born Chinese (ABC) professor who has fallen in love with, unbeknownst to her, one of the wealthiest men in Singapore. Whisked away to his home country, Rachel is put up against his equally rich family as they prepare to attend the most anticipated Singaporean wedding of the year. The book is the ultimate beach read, full of gossip sessions set in decked out penthouses, shopping excursions, private jet trips and, of course, a bunch of mega-rich Asian socialites getting in each other’s business.
Chu never thinks to search up on her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, before going with him to Singapore, but the thought that she should have begins to dawn on her when the couple is guided into luxury first-class on the plane. In fact, it is this naivety that allows for the extreme contrast between Chu’s modest knowledge of wealthy Asia, and the ridiculous excess that Young’s family keeps piling on her. She steps blindly into this new world, and is continually shocked at the malice she is met with. It’s not only the change of scene and status Rachel has to adjust to, but she also must endure the constant judgement from her boyfriend’s family, who would prefer him to be with a rich, island-born girl, not to mention the countless eligible Singaporean bachelorette socialites who want Young for themselves.
I am sure many of you have seen the movie “Crazy Rich Asians,” which was released in 2018. The book was only written in 2013 and I am here to tell you that the story on screen was surprisingly close to the novel, most likely due to Kwan’s close work with the filmmakers. The movie was close to the picture in my head, with Kwan’s romantic and witty imagery filling the screen. Both are gaudy and feel-good, but also fight the stereotype that all rich people are inherently bad, providing a refreshing view of the wealthy.
Speaking of stereotypes, the film got major press for its all-Asian cast. Both actors and viewers alike rejoiced at seeing Asian characters portrayed in lengthy and authoritative roles. Actors such as Gemma Chan, Constance Wu, Henry Golding and popular rapper and actress Awkwafina, gave stunning performances and presented us with a window into the lives of these storybook characters based on real, live, crazy and rich Asians.
So, if you’re looking for a powerful commentary on wealth and status in Asia, a fun, feel-good escape to another world or simply an easy read to take your mind off the impending stress of Winter Term, check out “Crazy Rich Asians” — either the book or movie version. I promise you won’t regret it!