In Crazy Rich Asians, we follow the Young family as they welcome grandson Nicholas’ girlfriend, Rachel Chu, to Singapore to attend Nicholas’ best friends’ wedding. And while Rachel expects to find a nice, traditional Chinese family doing nice and traditionally Chinese things, what she actually gets is a whole different ball game.
Still working on my summary game, but I’ll most definitely get there.
This book was chosen by a friend of mine as this month’s pick for our book club. The premise – regular girl finds out her seemingly regular boyfriend is super rich with a super snobby family – is pretty cliche, but the Singapore setting made it seem very interesting. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed.
This book does a lot of things: it’s very catty and extravagant and dramatic, but it also does a good job of commenting on racism, classism, and colonialism. The author’s decision to include the prologue, and the particular incident that he chose to write about in the prologue, is the thing that will hook you. The many characters and their varying issues are the things that won’t let you put the book down.
The classic stereotypes are all there: old money despising the behavior of new money; new money trying to get in with and emulate old money; and the old miser who never wants to waste any money showing off- to the frustration of their immediate relatives. What’s interesting is how Anglicanized the old money is. At least twice a member of the nouveau riche admits that they are really Taoists or Bhuddists, but converts to Methodist in order to get in with a better crowd. All of the children have English or Christian/Catholic names. But here’s the kicker: at no point are these people not considered Chinese. In fact, they are more Chinese than the mainland Chinese.
I cannot stop recommending this book to people; it really is as good as I’ve been saying it is. It’s a challenge to talk about it without giving away any spoilers. However, even if you just wanted to learn about Singapore and some other random islands around Malaysia, this book is still a pretty good place to start. Please give Crazy Rich Asians a try. I promise you, you won’t regret it.