Crazy Rich Asians is a satirical 2013 romantic comedy novel by Kevin Kwan. Kwan claims the novel was loosely based on his own childhood in Singapore. The book focuses on Rachel Chu, Nicholas (Nick) Young, Eleanor Young, Astrid Leong and Edison Cheng. The story revolves around the grand wedding of Singapore‘s most eligible bachelor, Colin Khoo, and the supermodel, Araminta Lee, which everyone calls the wedding of the century.
The novel became a bestseller and was followed by two sequels, China Rich Girlfriend in 2015 and Rich People Problems in 2017. A film adaptation of the novel was released on August 15, 2018.
“The Book is Better than the Movie” is a ubiquitous slogan, but my belief in it was challenged when I read Crazy Rich Asians after watching the film. Typically, books provide more substance, context to plot points, and insights into character thoughts. Kevin Kwan, a Singaporean American, weaves a tale of love, wealth, and class in modern Singapore, following Rachel Chu and her relationship with the affluent Nick Young.
Classified as Realistic Fiction with a Romantic-Comedy plot, Crazy Rich Asians stands out for its representation of Asian culture. The book’s success, selling over 1.5 million copies before a 300% surge post-movie release, is significant for Asian cultural representation in entertainment, with the film grossing 226 million dollars worldwide.
Despite sharing similarities in plot and characters, the book lacks the depth audience crave after the movie. The abrupt change in perspectives without introduction is a glaring issue. Characters with distinct personalities become confusing when perspectives shift. However, some readers appreciate the multiple perspectives, finding them necessary for the story.
On a positive note, Kwan’s inclusion of native languages, translated into English, adds an immersive quality to the book. Malay, Hokkien, Mandarin, and Cantonese phrases enrich the reading experience, providing an educational element. Despite some critiques, reading the book and watching the movie increase interest in Asian culture, achieving, perhaps, Kwan’s intended purpose.
In conclusion, while I prefer the movie, it’s essential to acknowledge that without Kwan’s vision, both Crazy Rich Asians book and movie wouldn’t exist.