I’m about 200 pages down on Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan.
“Tiananmen”-banned this definitely will not be, and on all counts it’s not really begging to be taken seriously, but I get the impression that it’s more than the “chick lit” piece that it is tagging itself as. Bad intrusions of “Alamak” and misspelled Malay food items aside, it does paint a pretty informative and historical picture of the Chinese Wealthy (“There are two kinds of Chinese…”). It’s entertaining enough to while away queuing hours (in my case), but it leaves you with some economical fodder for dinner discussions too.
The title including “-Asians” implies that it has a commentary on a strata based on ethnicity and any perceptions of superiority and it just so happens we SEA “neighbors,” i.e. Filipinos, are maids in this universe. But we have the “rich Tans of the Philippines” too. Malaysians and Indonesians are also house staff and Burmese people are guards.* It’s a romp where the Chinese race are the center of the world and they are not apologizing for it – in a way it’s refreshing, and somehow I sense truth and political correctness despite the outlandish tag it gets. To the Western eye it’s unbelievable, but to a reader who is closer to home and who has a glimpse of these people in her own land, on her boyfriend’s readings, and on her own experience in her travels, it’s not such a crazy picture. Let’s see if it holds its conviction until the last page.**
*Burmese or Indian, I’ll correct later
**Because the last fashion-framed satire I read wasn’t so satisfying.