I read Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan in a matter of days, racing through the 400-ish pages in the heart of cottage country, Muskoka. It was a fitting place to read a book titled ‘Rich People Problems’ considering that’s about all I encountered while there. Complaints I overheard at a restaurant included: “My boat isn’t fast enough, my cottage isn’t big enough, and my driveway is too small to fit all my cars”. Talk about first world problems! But this strata of rich is nothing compared to the characters of Kwan’s latest book, these are the richest people in Asia, and I’m no economist, but I’m guessing Asia is home to most of the world’s billionaires, so these are the richest of the rich, to say the least.
In case it wasn’t obvious in my introduction, this book is fiction. It’s chick-lit* at it’s finest: romance, fashion, and overblown family drama-what’s not to love? The third in a series featuring many of the same characters, this book is all about the estate of Tyersall Park, and who it’s going to be bequeathed to as the matriarch of the family, Su Yi is on her deathbed. There is a dazzlingly large and complicated family around Su Yi, so big that the family tree is laid out at the beginning of the book to help readers along (personally, I referred to it over and over again to just get my bearings about who was who). While people are vying for Su Yi’s love, there is lots going on in the background including a cursory look at Singapore’s history, sex scandals everywhere you look, and fish getting plastic surgery. There seems to be something for everyone here.
One of my favourite things about this book are the little footnotes that act as asides from the author, or translations of some of the more colloquial sayings. These are just hilarious, and it feels like the author is winking at you saying “aren’t these people crazy?” as you read about the latest escapades of each character. Kwan clearly doesn’t take his writing too seriously (thank god), so you’re able to sail through these books without much thought to the moral, ethical or environmental implications to all this excess. Obviously this kind of easy breezy style won’t appeal to everyone, but all three books in the series are bestsellers, and his first in the series Crazy Rich Asians is being made into a movie. So there you have it; not for everyone, but many will enjoy it, just like I did.
*I feel the need to mention the fact that I don’t call this chick-lit in a condescending manner. Chick-lit is an extremely successful and worthwhile genre. I enjoy reading it, as do millions of other people (not just women), so please understand I use the label ‘chick-lit’ with love and respect 🙂