Kevin Kwan’s rollicking, often-riotous debut novel, “Crazy Rich Asians,’’ reads like a behind-the-scenes primer of the rising über-elite of the ever-powerful Asian world. With the author’s exhaustive cast of characters largely hailing from three families (the Youngs, the Shangs, and the T’siens), the reader is given an intimate window into the spending and investing patterns, and burgeoning and crumbling relationships of this upper echelon of extraordinary wealth. There are private jets (equipped with yoga studios), privately owned islands, outlandish resorts, and bible study circles where the women are more passionate about stock tips than biblical verse.
Amid all of the wildly well-to-do characters, this novel predominately tracks the relationship of one young couple, Rachel Chu and Nicholas Young. Initially, the story sounds familiar: Two professionals meet through a colleague and steadily fall in love. They are regulars at Tea & Sympathy and leisurely stroll the sidewalks of Washington Square Park hand in hand. After two years of being together, Nicholas invites Rachel to spend the summer in Asia with him, first attending the wedding of his best friend in Singapore and then exploring the rest of the region.