Words

Crazy Rich Asians

When escapism fills the bill

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

In library school (yes, there’s such a thing, it’s a master’s program in Library and Information Science that trains professional librarians) students learn Rosenberg’s First Law of Reading: “Never apologize for your reading taste.”

So there’s no need to feel embarrassed if you occasionally (or regularly) get sucked into reading something lowbrow. Reading can be recreational, after all, and why not have fun? Crazy Rich Asians, which came out in 2013, is Kevin Kwan’s satirical comedy of manners that skewers the Chinese and Malaysian jet set. The rom-com movie version is scheduled to be released this summer, so grab a copy of the book now and you’ll be ahead of the game.

This fun and frivolous novel starts with family trees tracing the relationships between several of Singapore’s ruling elite dynasties. The cast of characters is lengthy and confusing (is it Astrid Leung who only wears couture but shuns Louis Vuitton? Or Fiona Tung who receives a stunning sapphire necklace from her Ah Ma but loans it to her cousin’s American Born Chinese girlfriend?), but you don’t need to stress about it.

The protagonist is Rachel Chu, a professor of economics at New York University who is persuaded by her dashing boyfriend Nick Young to join him at the wedding of his best friend Colin Khoo in Singapore. Little does Rachel know that this is going to be the event of the year, and Nick is the future heir to Sir James Young and Shang Su Yi’s immense fortune.

After meeting Colin’s fiancée Araminta, a fashion icon whose nouveau-riche parents are ponying up more than $40 million for the nuptials, Rachel is quickly circled by sharks at Araminta’s over-the-top bachelorette party. She’s immediately labeled a gold digger and the gossip network is all a-twitter, despite Rachel’s complete lack of awareness about Nick’s most eligible bachelor status.

Scene after scene of lavish opulence and catty conniving introduces readers to the intricacies of this ultra-rich social set. There are those who love comparing real estate holdings and stock options with other HNWIs (High Net Worth Individuals), those who greedily snap up knock-off designer purses versus those who wouldn’t be caught dead with a fake, and those who happily send their children to the very best prep schools and fly their private planes to Hong Kong and Macau and tiny Indonesian islands. Kwan sprinkles in plenty of Chinese and Malaysian slang for color.

If you haven’t read a book with Chinese characters since The Joy Luck Club or Wild Swans, Crazy Rich Asians will bring you up to speed. Fans of Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes’ book Snobs, or even glitzy TV soap operas like Dallas or Dynasty will surely have a grand time devouring this novel. It even includes a little modern romance to sweeten the deal. In today’s never-ending news cycle of violence and destruction, a little escapism can really fill the bill.

Christine Perkins is the executive director of the Whatcom County Library System. She has been known to read her fair share of books with sparkly covers.

Smoking Crow
More Words...
Educated
A voice reclaimed

In her time studying at Harvard and Cambridge, Tara Westover often discovered profound gaps in her knowledge. Teachers would refer to specific events or places that she’d never heard of; other students would make cultural references she didn’t understand.

These discoveries sometimes…

more »
Skagit Poetry Fest
A river runs through it

When asked to describe what a perfect day attending the Skagit River Poetry Festival would look like, board member Jessica Gigot’s wish list includes plenty of time to savor what La Conner has to offer.

“Saturday at the festival, I’d wake up and take a walk along the channel,” she says of…

more »
Whistleblower
An evening inside the CIA

“Whistleblowers. Dissidents. Contrarians,” author Melvin Goodman writes.

“The terms are used synonymously by pundits and the public, and I’ve been all three at one time or another in order to expose improprieties and illegalities in the secret government, and to inform the American…

more »
Events
Today
Ski to Sea Book Sale

10:00am|Bellingham Public Library

BC Morgan Horse Show

9:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

The Gun Show

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

The Aliens

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Wild Things

9:30am|Cornwall Park

Ski to Sea Book Sale

10:00am|Everson Library

Valley Writers

1:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Coffee Tasting

3:00pm|Camber Cafe

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Fourth Friday Art Walk

5:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

Ski to Sea Block Party

5:00pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

It Can't Happen Here

7:30pm|Philip Tarro Theatre

Baywatch and Brawls

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Beachside Barbecue

8:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Village Books
Tomorrow
Ski to Sea Book Sale

10:00am|Bellingham Public Library

BC Morgan Horse Show

9:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

The Gun Show

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

The Aliens

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

It Can't Happen Here

7:30pm|Philip Tarro Theatre

Baywatch and Brawls

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #154

Mount Vernon Farmers Market

9:00am|Riverwalk Park

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Lummi Island Artists' Studio Tour

10:00am|Lummi Island

Birch Bay Kite Festival

10:00am|Birch Bay State Park

Sumas Writers Group

10:00am|Sumas Library

Correspondence Club

10:30am|Mindport Exhibits

Public Sail

1:00pm|Squalicum Harbor Marina

Mark Twain Bench Dedication

3:30pm|Village Books

Artist Talk with Sheila Klein and Ries Niemi

4:00pm|i.e. gallery

The cutting edge

4:00pm

Saturday Seafood Boil

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Trove Web
Sunday
BC Morgan Horse Show

9:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

Birch Bay Kite Festival

10:00am|Birch Bay State Park

Lummi Island Artists' Studio Tour

10:00am|Lummi Island

The big picture

7:30am

Ski to Sea Race

7:30am|Mt. Baker to Marine Park

Edison Farmers Market

10:00am|Edison Granary

Historic Fairhaven Festival

10:00am|Historic Fairhaven

Langar in Lynden

11:00am|Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Audubon at the Museum

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Art of Jazz

4:00pm|Majestic

Take Me to Church

8:00pm|Rumors Cabaret

see our complete calendar »

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books Trove Web