Monday, November 18, 2013

The Title Says It All

"Crazy Rich Asians" by Kevin Kwan   Doubleday   403 pages   $25.95

This was an eye opener for me as I'd never thought much (or at all to be brutally frank) about the Asian Super-Rich.  This particular group of them lives in Singapore when they're not occupying one of their other homes in Paris, London or New York.  Their private aircraft includes one woman's 737-700 jet with a yoga studio complete with inlaid pebble walls and a heated pine floor. 

A man throws the bachelor party on his 388 ft. yacht with a karaoke lounge, a casino, two swimming pools and an outdoor bowling alley.

The story begins with an invitation from Nick to Rachel, his girlfriend of two years to spend the summer in Singapore - he has to be best man at his best friend's wedding and then why not tour around so he can show her his home town?  Both are teachers at NYU.

American raised Rachel is unaware of the degree to which these people distinguish between Mainland China vs. Overseas Chinese.  The most dreaded are the ABCs 0 American-Born Chinese. 

The families in the book are not only numerous - houses have to be big to accomodate dinners and celebrations with all of them - but they are crazy rich. 

Rivalry among the families is intense -- The Ohs have to be seated in the front pews of the Methodist church, 50 pews in front of a Ling.  A Chu won't go within 50 ft. of a Leong. 

Gossip is state of the art via international cell phones.  "You sound sleepy - why are you going to bed so early?  Are you all right?"

"Yes, it's night time here."

"Aren't you in Singapore?"

"No, Paris - what's up?"

It's a crackling good read with just the right amount of history (how they made all that money,) bitchy women, oblivious men and several love stories.  And amazing examples of how billionaires are often very cheap. 

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