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‘Crazy Rich Asians’

Kevin Kwan’s new novel out of Singapore sends up a new world of wealth exploding in the East.

Kevin Kwan, author of the novel "Crazy Rich Asians." (Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte/Random House)

Kevin Kwan, author of the novel “Crazy Rich Asians.” (Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte/Random House)

The most famous China-born member of the billionaire world today is probably Wendi Deng Murdoch, wife of Rupert Murdoch, headed for divorce.

But Asia is exploding with self-made billionaires of its own these days. A “great wall of cash” out of China and beyond, on a scale that staggers.

A $150 million wedding these days? Look to Asia, and all that glitters.

Singapore-born Kevin Kwan captures it all in his new novel, “Crazy Rich Asians.” The wall of money rising over the world.

Up next On Point: Kevin Kwan and “Crazy Rich Asians.”

– Tom Ashbrook


Kevin Kwan, author of the novel “Crazy Rich Asians.” He grew up in Singapore, a child of wealthy parents. (@crazyrichasians)

Book Excerpt

Read an additional excerpt at the publisher’s website.

From Tom’s Reading List

NPR: Children Of China’s Wealthy Learn Expensive Lessons — “In China, having too much money is a relatively new problem. But the rapidly growing country is second only to the U.S. in its number of billionaires, according to Forbes magazine. And now an enterprising company has set up a course for kids born into wealthy families, who are learning how to deal with the excesses of extraordinary wealth.”

Elle: Meet The New Asian Super-Rich — “When mainland China shifted to a more market-driven economy late in the twentieth century, wealth creation went from almost zero to supersonic in a matter of decades. People in industries from manufacturing to property development to retail suddenly got stupendously rich, and a new class of superrich emerged. A decade ago there were no Chinese billionaires on the annual Forbes list. In 2013, there are 122.”

The Atlantic: The Growing Disdain For China’s Super-Rich — “Fu’erdai literally translates to ‘rich second generation’ and are generally either guan’erdai, meaning ‘government official second generation;’ xing’erdai, meaning ‘super-star second generation;’ or hong’erdai, children whose families have strong roots in the Communist Party and can ‘eat from both plates.’”


“Shuang Shuang Yan” by Deng Bai Ying

“Bye Bye” by Denise Ho

Tweets From During The Show

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  • GM

    Gangnam style!

    I wish Americans had more disdain for our super-rich. Instead, apparently most of us uncritically think “That’ll be me someday”.

    • geraldfnord

      I don’t think that it’s that simple: I think that most Americans will freely admit that they will never be rich, but accept a moral system that holds that everyone who _is_ rich deserves to be so, and so their activities are not to be questioned beyond tut-tutting at the violation of tribal sexual tabus by celebrities (who are generally in the lowest tiers of the rich—Soros or Hunt don’t need to care about Kardashians) . This morality is (i.m.arrogant.o.) distorted to the extent that it ignores the reality of marginal utility to the extent that it holds that William Gates III’s ability to do as he would with his ten thousandth $200K deserves exactly the same protection as their freedom to keep and use their life-savings of $200K.

      Until we get past the Scarcity the honey-trap of agriculture induced, there will always be rich people, and their lives will be better than the lives of the rest of us. What _is_ avoidable is seeing the rich as being different in nature to us, people who deserve to rule us, rather than as people like us with more money.

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    the crazy rich asians are getting all the rhinos and bears and such killed. i guess they will go to any length to get a boner

  • DrewInGeorgia

    I read the supplied material, it’s Rubbish.
    This is what you deem worthy hour two material?
    The downward slide continues, you’re better than this OP.

  • Jim

    more Rich or “crazy” rich… there is a civil and moral responsibility for being rich. it is more than being rich that counts. the rich Asians need to understand how to make everyone in their society happy and not feel left out. it is a point and emphasis that will determine whether its world can be SUSTAINED.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    “Wendy Deng Murdoch”

  • Jim

    Wendi is out to prey on another rich white devil soon

  • Jon

    Unfortunate global spreading of capitalism disease, an indication of moral decadency – nothing to be proud of.

  • Jim

    being rich in asia also is synonymous to being oblivious to its surrounding.. especially the poors and the environment.

  • Arthur

    How do you think being super rich in Asia is different from being rich in the the n. America? Apart from the decadent opulence? Charity? Contributions back to the society?

  • Michiganjf

    It’s such a shame…

    Knowing Asia’s time would come, I’ve long hoped that the Chinese/Asians would be better stewards of the world’s wealth than than the West ever was… especially considering traditional Chinese savings rates and thrift.

    …instead, it looks as though they’ll be even worse.

    This bodes very badly for the entire planet, and for ever doing anything about more equally distributing influence, power, and wealth.

    The more wealth the few have, the more doggedly they’ll do anything to maintain the status quo… even by covert, criminal, nefarious means.

    We’re so doomed!

  • Jim

    maybe in the “crazy rich” the writer should consider the anti climatic ending for some rich folks… then.. show how they would blame the fung shuwei of their house.

  • Crest Villa

    I am southeast Asian with some Chinese ancestry and I find the tendency of people of my culture to flaunt it when they become wealthy gauche and offensive. But of course, conspicuous consumption has ancient roots in China (and other “dragon culture” societies) with their lauriats and overly dressy costumes that use more cloth than necessary. Think of those ridiculously loose and long sleeves. 

  • Arthur

    There is a facility named after an Asian conglomerate in Carnegie Mellon, if I’m not wrong

  • snowmanmass

    Chinese Communist party is the new emperor of China under guise living off the blood and sweat of millions of common Chinese who are well under the world poverty level except they are much more powerful and suppressive than the old feudal lords.  This is a sad story, hardly anything to laugh about.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    “The rich aren’t the happiest people in the world, they have their problems”

    Do they have to worry about where their child’s next meal will come from, or where they will attempt to sleep that night, or whether tomorrow the catastrophic health condition they have been unable to get treatment for will finally overtake them?


    They don’t have “problems”, they have distractions.

    • HonestDebate1

      I know some happy rich people but I know more miserable ones. I know some happy poor people to.

      I suspect the following could offend you but I don’t intend  it to. I wish you nothing but good luck but in life it’s not always forthcoming. And it’s absolutely none of my business but:

      You should consider moving to Dakota fracking land. It’s miserably cold and unbelievably hard work from what I understand but 100K+ jobs can be had. It may not be the way of life you want but I infer you don’t have that anyway. It’s a way out.

      • DrewInGeorgia

        I appreciate the thought and I know you intended no offense. A couple of things for you to consider:

        Transportation to North Dakota:
        No money, I’d pretty much have to hitchhike.
        food is a problem now, it would become even more difficult on the road.
        It wouldn’t be the first time but I’m getting too old to manage it. If I could still manage it I would have been doing my own version of “Walk Across America” for the past several years.

        The entire left half of my body is a wreck:
        perfectly willing to do physical labor but that doesn’t mean I’m
        physically capable. An uninsured motorist hit me when I was young and
        left me with plates and screws, limited range of movement, limited
        weight-bearing, and arthritic pain that is all but debilitating. An
        Undocumented Resident hit me head on many years later
        and took care of the rest. Same results as initial accident minus the
        metal bits.

        I could never contribute to the fracking industry:
        I can see what will be coming down the pipe as a result of fracking twenty years from now and I will have no hand in it.

        rather be one idea closer to becoming a decent human-being than one
        dollar closer to becoming a billionaire. I am not unhappy that I am
        poor, I have absolutely no problem with that. What I have a problem with
        is watching my Constitutional rights get raped for fifteen years while
        being told constantly that I should do something differently. It’s easy
        to make suggestions from the sidelines.

        I am not offended at all,
        I know you’re trying to be helpful. I completely understand the ‘Happy
        if you know it’ mentality. I’ve read the concentration camp fish-head
        story as I’m sure many others have. I get it. What I don’t get is the
        mindless marching on of a society that appears to desire nothing more than to consume

        • HonestDebate1

          Well good luck any way, I’ve been homeless and hungry, it’s no fun.

    • Loren Talbott

       I agree 100%!  I was SO angry when he made that stupidass statement. There is a world of difference between desperate, painful poverty and and inconvenience or a distraction to focus on.  Let this writer his rich buddies and a bunch of Mitt Romney types try being truly hungry and desperate and then see if they still have some jokes to make about it.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    “There’s a trickle down there..hahaha”
    Enough. *click*

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Does wealth cause people to revert to adolescent behavior? Seriously these folks are behaving like kids in a candy store!?!

  • timbrock1

    What is really worrisome is the ravaging of nature ie the segment on the elephant ivory exploitation that has exploded with the rich Chinese.  The interesting story is who in China is trying to protect nature in the face of this rampant consumption.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy


    • Tyranipocrit

       they dont give a shit about the environemnt or other human beings–no human rights, no concern, no empathy, no freedom of speech, no freedom independent thought, no freedom of independent thinking.  The envornment is directly connected to human beings and human rights.

      The way we treat wildlife is a reflection of how we treat fellow human beings.

      The way domestic and wild animals are treated in China is disgustingly cruel.  And the rest are just indifferent and apathetic.

      This is the attitude expanding into the world–negative negative chi and karma.

      There is a shadow spreading over the world.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Colette-Chisholm/100002202665207 Colette Chisholm

    I feel sorry for these crazy rich people. What will happen to them when the party is over? And it will end.
    I’m so thankful my mother did not give me everything I wanted; not that she could have, but allowed me to dream and strive for all that I have today. It truly is about the journey, not the destination.

    • Tyranipocrit

      when the party is over they will still have all the money in the world and the power.  And with dwindling resources such as water–who do you think will control it?

      Now imagine a great leap forward in genetic science and space exploration.  Who will have the power to extend life and reach out into the galaxy–the most vile human beings on the planet–the greedy selfish vain 1% who murder and cheat and steal to get their wealth.  The human race will be a scourge in the universe.  Who will the villains be in future interstellar wars.  The 1% of earth.

      Its time we slap down the 1% and distribute their wealth into the human-earth alliance–build a united harmonious earth and pool resources to go boldly into space as a whole earth non-profit organization.  Genetic science, immortality, health care, clean water and air, a comfortable lifestyle, space travel–these are the rights of all–not just the 1%. 

      Smack them down before its too late.

    • ExcellentNews

      When the party is over, the 99% will carry the burden. Just like at the end of George W Bush the Third reign in 2008…

  • madnomad554

    Well if your house is sitting full of, “MADE IN CHINA” material possessions, then you have done your part. 

  • Tyranipocrit

    flaunting wealth is arrogant, vain, inconsiderate, gauche, ignorant, crass, and vulgar.  Its not glorious–its just evil.

  • Tyranipocrit

    when you think about where this money comes from it is absolutely disgusting and should not be glorified.  These people are criminals.  Their actions are inhuman.  And destructive–murderous.  And the treatment of Chinese underclass is deplorable.  heinous. 

    In a way the worlds 1% are terrorists.  And we glorify it. we accept it. 

    These people need to be rounded up and jailed.  Their wealth confiscated and funneled into international infrastructure, health care, poverty alleviation, disaster aid, environmental clean-up, protection, and remediation.

    these people are just disgusting.

  • Tyranipocrit

    The spur rich americans and westerners now and hundred years ago–or ever–cant be excused either. 

    There is no philanthropy or charity in china.  Notice he gav eno examples.  So-called foundations or charities in China are frauds–scams, illegal wealth havens.

    These chinese wealty elites have no empathy or concern for theunderclass. They despise them and see themselves as gods .  Very haughty haughty snobbish vain people.

    Crazy is the key word here.

  • John Cedar

    It is good to see this new breed of Ming Galts improving the lives of the unwashed masses with their God given gifts. It will only be a matter of time before poverty in China will mean only one flat screen, a BMI of 30+, five tattoos, suffering with two year old 3G cell phones, only two bathrooms and having to smoke third tier cigarette brands. Like it does in the USA today.

    • ExcellentNews

      “God given” in the same sentence as “John Galt” ??? Ayn Rand was a fervent atheist and despised religion. I wonder what she would make of today’s Republican fellowship of corporate cronies and religious fundamentalists. Probably recognize it as a new form of totalitarianism and puke on it…

  • ExcellentNews

    What a short memory we have. Just go to Europe and visit Versailles or Buckingham Palace, and you will see the same thing the writer describes.

    Do not look up to Asia as anything more than a gilted cage. Just like in the old days of the feudal age, behind every new Asian millionaire, there are 1000 serfs, living in utter poverty with no human rights or freedoms whatsoever. Anyone who has traveled in Asia outside the “shopping areas” knows that.

    Which should bring all of us to examine our own ideals. The American Revolution was in large part about turning our backs to the European-style oligarchy of the few privileged ones, and embracing a future of equal opportunity for all. The Western model was reaffirmed by the Lincoln and Roosevelt eras, and spread to Western Europe in the late 20th century.

    The principles of that model are so different from what you see in Asia today and from the history we turned our back upon. Liberty. Equality. Democracy. A society where no servants rush to greet the master. A society where a person cannot be executed for speaking their mind.

    At least in principle. For our own corporations, Republican trust fund heirs, and global oligarchs are doing their darnedest to bring back the dark ages, and destroy the middle class backbone of American freedoms and democracy.

    Think about it when you shop at Wal Mart. Do not pull your wallet to buy something made by slave labor, in countries that do not live up to our values.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.hetzel.54 Brian Hetzel

    Rich Kids of Instagram: http://richkidsofinstagram.tumblr.com/

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Roger-Faulkner/1059666184 Roger Faulkner

    Didn’t anyone else think it was odd that Mr. Kwan’s host had him picked up at the airport by “4 Filipino maids?” I am reminded of a scene in”Shogun” when the shogun sends 4 beautiful maidens to entertain his Portuguese navigator guest/prisoner; the fellow is clueless until he realizes what “pillowing” is, and is then offended. I suspect that there was more on offer from those four maids than breakfast. Thank God that some Americans are more Naive than Dominique Strauss-Kahn would have been!

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    does the current project of the japonese to catch all the bluefin tuna in the world count as the acts of crazy rich asians?

  • burroak

    Although I can appreciate Kevin Kwan’s book for its literary satire; but a 40 million dollar wedding; that couple is crazy alright; out of touch with all those impoverished, struggling Chinese.
    And factory owners, why not entertain a putting green in their private jets, while their workers ponder survival in polluted penny-shacks. 
    Curious, how much of China’s nouveau-rich is directly related to American-companies-outsourcing.
    Perhaps it does not matter where or how well a product is made, but rather, where, and how much, a maximum profit is.
    So be it, I guess.

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