Crazy Rich Asians tells the story of Rachel Chu, a professor of economics at NYU who is deeply in love with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young.
Nicholas is originally from Singapore and he and Rachel have been invited to attend the wedding of Nicholas’ best friend that is taking place in his homeland.
Much to Rachel’s surprise she discovers that Nick is actually from one of the richest families in Singapore, and she’s about to meet his fearsome mother, Eleanor Young, for the first time.
Eleanor is very opinionated about who she wants her son to marry, and Rachel does not fit that bill.
Eleanor digs deeper into Rachel’s more modest background, looking to break the couple up.
The story weaves together multiple narratives, particularly that of Nick’s beautiful cousin, Astrid, revered by Singapore society for her grace and beauty but who is experiencing marital woes.
Crazy Rich Asians introduces us to a world of big spenders, and families obsessed with wealth, appearance, and status who are contrasted by more down-to-earth characters who are nonplussed about their family’s enormous wealth.
If you love Crazy Rich Asians, then you’ll thoroughly enjoy books like The Windfall, The Joy Luck Club, and the rest of The Crazy Rich Asians trilogy!
Check out our list of 5 books to read after Crazy Rich Asians (see also “Books Like A Kingdom Of Dreams“).
Themes In Crazy Rich Asians
Naturally, family is at the center of this novel, and brings up questions of how a family should look and interact with each other, and what responsibilities they should have.
The characters not only grapple with the notion of family itself but a sense of duty to their family too, especially when lineage and inheritance play such an important role.
However, there is conflict within the family as each member has different values and notions of family, and so interacts with their family differently.
Class And Society
The societal notion that money makes you prim and proper is challenged in this novel, and the stark message of Crazy Rich Asians is that money does not equal class.
Those at the very top of Singaporean society have lifestyles and ways of behaving that seem alien to the American-born, humble Rachel, but she notes that all they talk about is money.
Wealthy characters believe status, money and class are more important than treating others with respect.
Eddie Cheng is a particularly odious example of this. Eddie is completely entitled, who prioritizes his status and boosting his profile over his children.
Foreignness And ‘The Other’
Where characters are born is a loaded subject in Crazy Rich Asians, and Kwan juxtaposes the snobbiness of some of the more entitled members of Singapore society and how they criticize those who are ‘Mainland Chinese’ with the fact that most of them have Chinese roots.
Philip Young points this hypocrisy out to his wife, but she ignores him.
But Othering doesn’t just relate to nationality in the novel but class too, as those in a different social class are treated condescendingly by some of the wealthiest characters.
Books Like Crazy Rich Asians
1. China Rich Girlfriend By Kevin Kwan
A lot of people don’t know that Crazy Rich Asians is actually the first installment of a trilogy, and if you were one of those people we’re glad to share this good news with you!
The plot of China Rich Girlfriend surrounds the wedding preparations of Rachel and Nick, but they are not the main focus of the novel.
It’s time for our favorite side characters to shine!
The honeymoon period is over for newlyweds Astrid and her tech billionaire husband, and Kitty Pong is attempting to rebrand herself while keeping a big secret.
The social commentary on the Chinese, Hong Kong, and Singaporean elite is intriguing, and China Rich Girlfriend definitely has a more thrilling, Gossip Girl tone to it.
The setting also changes from Singapore to Mainland China.
- Reunites us with characters we know and love.
- Even more drama than Crazy Rich Asians.
- Explores the lives of the rest of the Young family.
- Not as much of a focus on Rachel and Nick.
Themes: family, class, identity.
2. Rich People Problems By Kevin Kwan
Now that we’ve talked about the second installment of Crazy Rich Asians, let’s talk about the final installment of the trilogy.
This is undoubtedly a more somber story, as it concerns Eleanor, Nick’s grandmother, being on her deathbed.
The whole family has gathered around her bedside, hoping to inherit her huge fortune. In Rich People Problems we see people’s true colors be revealed.
- Concludes the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy.
- Some people found it more emotionally impactful and less ‘fluffy’ than China Rich Girlfriend.
- Gives us more of an insight into Eleanor’s backstory.
- Many readers were disappointed by the lack of focus on Rachel.
Themes: family, secrecy, duty.
3. Five-Star Billionaire By Tash Aw
Five-Star Billionaire is a fascinating story that gives us a glimpse of modern life in China and tells the story of four young people who are following their dreams in Shanghai.
Gary, Justin, Phoebe, and Yinghui come from totally different backgrounds and have totally different dreams.
What do they have in common is their connection to the five-star billionaire, Walter Chao.
What makes this novel such a great companion piece to Crazy Rich Asians is that it shows the underbelly of wealth and how that wealth is realized.
- Many readers found that it perfectly captures the experience of young relationships in the modern day.
- Many readers also praised its depiction of Shanghai.
- Intricately plotted.
- Some people found it quite difficult to get into because of the interweaving narratives.
Themes: revenge, coming-of-age, love
4. The Windfall By Diksha Basu
The Windfall tells the story of the Jha family, who live in East Delhi and live a rather modest life.
But all this changes when Mr Jha comes into a huge sum of money quite unexpectedly.
Not only is Mr Jha suddenly wealthy, but he is thrust into a new social class that he must now assimilate into.
All of this shakes his relationship with his wife and son to the core, and the novel centers around priorities and what really matters in life.
- Readers have praised the book for being both fun and thought-provoking.
- The book has also been praised for its quirky, relatable characters and universal themes.
- Has an uplifting message.
- Some readers found the book difficult to get into.
Themes: family, wealth, identity.
5. The Joy Luck Club By Amy Tan
Despite what its name suggests, The Joy Luck Club is a much more sobering read than Crazy Rich Asians, but both novels provide similar insights into the clash of East and West.
There are multiple perspectives interwoven into the narrative of The Joy Luck Club, and there is a particular focus on the mother-daughter relationship, and the tensions and struggles that come with being an immigrant mother raising their child in Western society; and being the daughter of an immigrant family trying to reconcile the traditions of your family and the expectations of the society around you.
While the daughters feel alienated from their mothers initially, over time the mothers and daughters begin to understand each other.
- A rich book bursting with symbolism.
- Has interweaving narratives.
- The book has been praised for its depiction of Chinese Americans.
- Some people have found it hard to connect with the characters due to the non-linear plot and multiple perspectives.
Themes: family, tradition, foreigners and ‘the other.’
Although Crazy Rich Asians opens our eyes to the jaw-dropping, lavish world of the super rich it is also a story of relatable, loveable characters, bursting with humor and filled with universal themes of family and identity.
If you want a deeper exploration of such themes then we would highly recommend the widely praised The Joy Luck Club, and if you’re looking for more thrills then look no further than Five-Star Billionaire.
For a warm book full of humor and loveable characters you can’t go wrong with The Windfall, and if you want to reunite with the Young family, why not read the rest of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy?
All the books on our list are written by Asian authors and are celebrations of their heritage, and by reading these books you are not only discovering fantastic novels but supporting Asian writers in the process. Win-win!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Did It Cost To Make The Crazy Rich Asians Movie?
The Crazy Rich Asians movie cost $30 million to make and grossed $238.5 million worldwide, making it the 6th highest grossing romantic comedy on the US market (If you liked this, also check out Books Like Heartstopper).
What Building Is Shown At The End Of The Crazy Rich Asians Movie?
The Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore is shown during the jaw-dropping final scene of the Crazy Rich Asians movie.
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