Last Updated September 5, 2023.
The premise of Crazy Rich Asians is familiar. Rachel, an NYU Economics professor, is flying to Singapore with her boyfriend and colleague Nick Young in order to meet his family. The novel has traditional elements of social satire with its wry and humorous look at the differences between the outrageously wealthy and merely wealthy, as well as the complicated social workings, rivalries, and jealousies of that environment. Set in a country with an exceptionally high concentration of millionaires, the novel finds humor in all the different ways (at turns quirky, subtle, and nefarious) that social status is defined in an environment in which everyone is rich. Like many social satires before it, Crazy Rich Asians also offers a voyeuristic look at an aspirational life that millions might fantasize about, but only very few will even glimpse.
Crazy Rich Asians (published in 2013) has already earned a place in both pop culture and literary history for its recent and wildly successful film adaptation, which is culturally significant as the first mainstream American film with a predominantly Asian cast to be released in 25 years. The success of the film has sparked a conversation regarding the lack of diversity in Hollywood and the limited or even concerning way that Asians are typically represented in mainstream American pop culture.