Kevin Kwan has a new book coming out soon. It's called China Rich Girlfriend, and if you don't know why this is shriek-worthy news, allow me to introduce you to Kwan's first novel, Crazy Rich Asians, which came out a couple of years ago. It follows a group of obscenely rich and dazzlingly attractive Chinese jetsetters gathered for a wedding in Singapore.
Here are six of the most wonderful things about this gloriously, irreverently fun and dishy novel, which you will definitely want to read before diving into Kwan's latest.
1. This book is set in a world comprised entirely of people of color. To say this is refreshing is putting it mildly.
2. All your covetous fantasies will be stoked by elaborate descriptions of the trappings of excessive wealth. This is the literary version of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. There are private jets with yoga studios, dogs with names like Vanderbilt and Trump, climate-controlled closets, gallons of Hennessy, extravagant jewelry, so much real estate porn — literally anything money can buy, and then some.
3. This book knows exactly what it is, and revels in it. There is romance, sex, infidelity, more gallons of Hennessy, conflict and intrigue. There is the never-ending tension between old money and new. But I love that this book doesn't get mired in late capitalist critique. It's unabashedly voyeuristic, and leaves it at that.
4. You know how Edith Wharton does that wicked but exceedingly righteous thing where she meticulously details, and then skewers, the late 19th century American upper class and those who yearned to join it? That's what Kevin Kwan does, but for newly moneyed 21st century Asian golden boys, fashionistas, and "Chuppies" (Chinese yuppies). To wit:
"To Eleanor, every single person occupied a specific space in the elaborately constructed social universe in her mind. Like most of the women in her crowd, Eleanor could meet another Asian anywhere in the world — say, over dim sum at Royal China in London, or shopping in the lingerie department of David Jones in Sydney — and within thirty seconds of learning their name and where they lived, she would implement her social algorithm and calculate precisely where they stood in her constellation based on who their family was, who else they were related to, what their approximate net worth might be, how the fortune was derived, and what family scandals might have occurred within the past fifty years."
5. The character Astrid Leong, who glitters at the social epicenter of this uberwealthy Chinese enclave:
"She wasn't a rebel, because to call her one would imply that she was breaking the rules. Astrid simply made her own rules, and through the confluence of her particular circumstances — a substantial private income, overindulgent parents, and her own savoir faire — every move she made became breathlessly talked about and scrutinized within that claustrophobic circle."
6. The footnotes scattered throughout the novel: one part useful information, three parts snark. Here is one such note on a unique style of architecture.
"The exotic Black and White houses of Singapore are a singular architectural style found nowhere else in the world. Combining Anglo-Indian features with the English Arts and Crafts movement, these white-painted bungalows with black trim detailing were ingeniously designed for tropical climes. Originally built to house well-to-do colonial families, they are now extremely coveted and available only to the crazy rich ($40 million for starters, and you might have to wait several decades for a whole family to die)."
I could go on and on, but do yourself a favor and just dive heart first into the pile of glitter that is Crazy Rich Asians.