So I finished Crazy Rich Asians a few months ago and absolutely loved it! It was fantastic and humorous and dynamic! I don’t know who ISN’T excited for the movie in just about a week here, but I ABSOLUTELY AM! I’ll definitely be posting my review of what I liked about it and what wished would have been different here! My one consistent thought throughout this book: THERE SO MUCH CHEATING.

Anyhoo.

Although Rachel and Nick are the main characters, this is one of those books that have multiple main characters. I love books like this that have family portraits because it allows me to see the family dynamic and allow the author to explore how each family member fits in the family and how they affect the members. I’m not sure what other people were expecting when they read this book, some of the criticisms I saw is that the characters were shallow and I think that is one of the challenges of writing family portraits. Because the author is so focused on the family as a whole, sometimes people walk away feeling like they don’t know the characters, but I didn’t feel like this was true.

When I was in college, we had to write a short piece on someone and our task was to find a story that showed who that person was. I felt like Kwan accomplished this incredibly well. With the exception of Nick and Rachel, with the 3-4 scenes each character was in, I could easily tell what each of the characters were like, and for most, what their motivations were. I’d call that a job well done. It was like a 400 page version of Tales of Ba Sing Se.

A complaint I read said that there wasn’t anything to discuss after reading the book, which to be frank, I balk at. To someone who hasn’t spent a lot of time around collectivistic cultures or Chinese culture, it might seem like this is just a story with nothing to discuss, but there’s so much to discuss from this book.

Here’s a few questions:

  • How does Rachel’s perception of Nick’s family and wealth matter?
  • To the Tsien, Young, and Shang family connections are one of the most important things. What happens when we assume family lineage is the only thing that matters?
  • How is the Tsien’s, Young’s, and Shang’s definition of family different from a typical Western definition of family? How is different from your definition of family?
  • In many Asian cultures, wealth does not just represent security, but also power. Is this how most Westerners view wealth? How do most American’s view wealth? How do you view wealth?
  • What were notable themes in Tsien’s, Young’s, and Shang’s family? How are they different from your family dynamic?
  • Did the amount of wealth and extravagance the Tsien, Young, and Shang family surprise you? Why were or weren’t you surprised?

This of course is just a launch pad, there’s so much to discuss, especially in terms of diversity in this book. Keep in mind these characters are ethnically Chinese, so they don’t represent the indigenous/native peoples of Malaysia. But this is still a really important movie!

Anyway, let me know if you have any strong opinions about these questions, and let me know how you liked the book!