Crazy Rich Asians was undoubtedly one of the most talked about films of the summer. Sporting an all Asian cast, this film made waves for diversity on screen whilst entertaining audiences all over the globe.
The film is based on the Crazy Rich Asians book by Kevin Kwan published back in 2013 and stars Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Constance Wu and Ken Jeong just to name a few.
It follows the story of Rachel Chu, a NYU economics professor who accompanies her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, back to Singapore for his best friend’s wedding. Little does she know that Nick Young comes from one of the wealthiest families in Singapore and she’s about to be delivered on a platter to the wolf that is his mother.
Eleanor Young only wants the best for her son and she’s convinced that Rachel is not that so she digs into the poor girl’s background (pun not intended) with the intention of splitting the pair up before it’s too late.
The story is told from multiple perspectives, giving an insight into the lives of numerous different parties in “Crazy Rich Asia”, which are all very different but equally hilarious. You’ll meet lavish spenders, families obsessed with appearances, status and wealth, as well as some down to earth characters unfazed by the masses of wealth surrounding their crazy families.
So if you’re looking for books similar to Crazy Rich Asians and authors similar to Kevin Kwan, have a scroll through this post. Some are funny, some are heartbreaking, but these stories all centre on other Asian families, often Asian American ones. But most importantly they are all written by Asian authors.
China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
Many fans of Crazy Rich Asians express surprise when they find out that the novel is actually the first part in a series and that there are two sequels. Yes, two! In China Rich Girlfriend we see Rachel about to wed the dashing (and super rich) Nick Young. But who will walk her down the aisle? What has happened to her birth father after all this time? This book takes us away from Singapore to Mainland China and introduces us to the filthy rich circles that reside there. And they’re even crazier than those we’ve already met! Meanwhile Astrid’s found that newly wed life doesn’t come without its problems when you’re marrying a tech billionaire.
Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
Crazy Rich Asians is but the first book in a trilogy by Kevin Kwan, which culminates in Rich People Problems. Nick Young’s grandmother, Su Yi, is on her deathbed. Unsurprisingly, the whole family have flocked to her bedside, hoping to be the recipients of some of the vast fortune that she holds the keys to. Meanwhile Astrid has her own problems, as her new husband’s ex-wife does everything in her power to try and sabotage Astrid’s reputation.
The Wangs vs The World by Jade Chang
I read the Wangs vs The World years before Crazy Rich Asians and the similarities between the two are undeniable. However, the Wangs are exactly the sort of family that Eleanor Young would’ve hated as they come from “new money” and the children have all been brought up in America. This is a hilarious tale of what happens to a sickeningly rich family when that money is all taken away from them.
Check out my book review of The Wangs vs The World here.
The Dim Sum of All Things by Kim Wong Keltner
Have you ever wondered:
Why Asians love “Hello Kitty”?
What the tattooed Chinese characters really say?
How to achieve feng shui for optimum make-out sessions?
Where Asian cuties meet the white guys who love them?
This title gripped me from the first few lines of the synopsis and for me the answers are yes, yes, yes and yes. If you’re a fan of Crazy Rich Asians and Asian culture then I’m sure your answers would’ve been the same.
Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw
Five Star Billionaire gives an amazing glimpse of what it’s like to live in rising China by following the lives of four characters pursuing their dreams in Shanghai. Phoebe, Gary, Justin and Yinghui all have completely different backgrounds and aspirations but they each have connections to Walter Chao, the five star billionaire, who has a hand in each of their fates. This book is largely concerned with Asians and money but we see the other end of the spectrum, before those dreams of being crazy rich are realised.
The Windfall by Diksha Basu
The Windfall is almost like The Wangs vs The World in reverse. The Jha’s have always lived modest lives in East Delhi but when Mr Jha unexpectedly comes into a huge sum of money, everything changes. Suddenly all he wants to do is fit in with all the other men of status that he’s suddenly found himself living amongst with polished shoes, hired guards and more. All this rocks his relationship with his wife and son and ultimately he is forced to recognise what really matters in life.
Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Tan
Also set amongst the elite of Singapore, this story follows Jazzy (yep.. that’s her name) as she attempts to hunt down a white ex pat husband. Just like Crazy Rich Asians, this novel is littered with Singlish references and gives a rich description of new money vs old attitudes. However, this time we’re following the gold digger as she tries to find a place of status for herself in modern Asia. Jazzy is basically Kitty Pong reincarnate!
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
The Joy Luck Club, contrary to the title, has none of the humour that you’ll find in Crazy Rich Asians. The two books similarities lie in their shared insights into families that clash when East meets West. The Joy Luck Club is written from multiple perspectives, alternating between mother and daughter, revealing the difficulties an immigrant mother has bringing up a child in the West. These daughters grow up to be alien to their own mothers but over time they begin to understand one another.
Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li
Number One Chinese Restaurant reveals the intricacies and difficulties of every family in much the same way that Crazy Rich Asians does. The Beijing Duck House in Maryland has been a top Chinese restaurant for decades but disaster strikes and all the family and staff involved are forced to confront issues that their busy restaurant lives have allowed them to avoid.
The Expatriates by Janice Y K Lee
The Expatriates is like the The Joy Luck Club in reverse focussing on three American expatriates living in Hong Kong. Mercy, Hilary and Margaret are three women, all at very different points of their lives, who find their stories tangled up with each other. They all live in the “American Zone” with almost no contact with the people of Hong Kong. It’s a poignant story about women and mothers and what it’s like to feel alienated in unfamiliar Asian territory.
Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee
Casey Han is the daughter of two Korean immigrants living in America. Upon graduating from Princeton, she finds that although she’s had the same education, she lacks the connections and opportunities her white friends now have. There’s not much that makes her excited in life but she’s convinced that money is the answer to all her problems. In this book, it’s once again the white people, rather than the Asians, who hold all the power and money, making this a nice contrast to Crazy Rich Asians.
What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan
What We Were Promised is another story of a family returning East as the Western-educated Zhen family move back to a radically different motherland. They started out in rural China, moved West to pursue the American dream, but now they’re back to the nouveau rich of Shanghai. It’s the story of what you owe your people and your country and what you were promised.
Chemistry by Weike Wang
Chemistry by Weike Wang follows an unnamed narrator as she tries to navigate adult life, relationships and family expectations. All she’s ever known are the things you can learn from a textbook and this has earned her the approval of her demanding Asian parents. But now she’s got to deal with a marriage proposal, her failed research and life’s challenges, which cannot be solved with the help of a textbook.
Soy Sauce For Beginners by Kirstin Chen
Soy Sauce for Beginners is another story that takes us from America back to Singapore but Gretchen Lin’s version of Singapore couldn’t be more different from Nick Young’s. She’s not crazy rich and she doesn’t come from a good family but she does have to deal with the conflict of personal ambition and filial duty, just like Nick. Whilst her father wishes for her to remain in Singapore to take care of the family business, her mother wants her to do the opposite and return to her marriage and studies in San Francisco.
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid
This book is a sort of rags to riches story as a rural boy with no money to his name becomes a business tycoon. The protagonist is nameless but he represents the ambitious youths growing up in rising Asia, desperate to take advantage of the fast growth and sudden influx of money in business. Whilst Nick Young’s family come from old money, the majority of Asia is only just starting to experience what it’s like to have serious amounts of money.
So there are my 15 top recommendations for what to read if you loved Crazy Rich Asians! These are all books like Crazy Rich Asians in some way or another in terms of theme, writing, or setting. Happy reading!
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