By Shruti Vairagkar (L&T Howden)
There’s rich, there’s wealthy, and then there’s crazy rich and wealthy. Kevin Kwan’s 2013 novel, Crazy Rich Asians delves into an obscenely rich Asian family. The story traverses through Singapore, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.
Two of the lead characters, Nick and his American born Chinese (ABC), Rachel are visiting his family over the summer. Rachel, a regular middle class woman is unaware of the affluence and wealth of Nick’s family. What ensues when she lands in Singapore, Nick’s home is a wickedly delightful ride! As Asians go (including us Indians), she meets his large family bursting at the seams with cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, and of course his parents and grandmother who holds the reins. There are several storylines across a myriad of characters which intertwine at several points across the novel.
The opulence and exclusive circles in which this family moves is contrasted against Rachel, her upbringing and her reactions to various instances she encounters. This family takes great trouble to stay out of the limelight, and deliberately takes the effort of staying out of the Richie Rich listicles. They all sit on a pedestal surrounded by their old wealth and connections to royal families across Asia and the rest of the world. Their snobbery knows no bounds as they look down upon the nouveau riche yet travel Economy class when flying. Because, that’s how you save money!
This book is a no holds barred story of a rich family, their eccentricities, and old school values set against materialism. It is funny, will make you laugh out loud, where most of the characters have no compunctions, and is devoid of any moral dialogues. It is unapologetically superficial, giving an insight into the lives of the rich and wealthy.
Crazy Rich Asians is a good read if one is curious about the lives of the likes of Ambanis, Birlas, and Godrejes. It is followed by two sequels, China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems.