Crazy Rich Asians, the first in a trilogy (which includes China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems), is a modern-day novel that takes a look at a group that is rarely covered in America—wealthy Asians. It leads our culture list, which I have compiled because each of these entries will give you a deep look into different worlds. (The film based on the book debuts today throughout America).
This list is important today because it can help dispel many of the myths we hold about groups, these books also show us how very similar we are. What we learn when we get to see one another outside of our indoctrinations is that we really are more alike than we are different. Each of these books will introduce you to culture, language, land and families that you may not have ever seen in this way before. In the process of reading these books your view of people may change. That’s the power of books.
Rounding out Culture List is Fresh Off the Boat, a hilarious look at another kind of Chinese family that immigrated to America and how they attempt to “fit in.” Zadie Smith’s White Teeth deals with three families and three cultures from across the pond in Great Britain while Junot Diaz’s classic The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao takes us through the life of a family from the Dominican Republic and sheds light on the complicated history of that island. And finally, Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achibe chronicles a pre-colonized Nigerian family and what happens when the first Europeans arrive (there’s a hint in the title).
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Professor Nick Young falls in love with fellow professor Rachel Chu. Under normal circumstances they would date, get married and live happily ever after. But this story takes a quick turn when Rachel is introduced to Nick’s family. Nick comes from one of China’s wealthiest clans—a very exclusive insulated bunch who are big on legacy. Rachel, who was raised by a single mom in a middle-class home, has no idea what she’s about to step into when she accompanies Nick to the wedding of her best friend. It is a wild, hilarious and very insightful look into a world few ever get to see. Kevin Kwan masterful unveils the land, the culture and the language of Asia (he covers mainland, Singapore and beyond) wrapped around a common theme of love.