Sunday, April 16, 2017

China Rich Girlfriend

The Crazy Rich Asians are up to their hijinks again in Kevin Kwan's sequel to that novel, China Rich Girlfriend - a story of untold riches and the curious burdens associated with the same. We have all heard that great wealth comes with its own penalties and pains, and Kwan lays these out with a fluency and perspecacity that I have rarely seen on the subject. In some sense, the rich person becomes a prisoner of his own riches and all the things entailed in their possession as it pertains to relasionship, position, expectations, family, love, class, tradition, and a stiff, suffocating form of propriety that is seemingly as inescapable as the wheel in a hamster's cage. What you do does not so much determine how much money you have as how much money you have determines what you do and who you are and must be.

Kwan delves into wealth here with a sort of affection for detail and specificity that may seem to border on the tedious to some readers - especially to male readers, I think. For me, however, this lends an inexpendable sense of real experience to the narrative, a sort of inside knowledge, from which one may learn and better evaluate the conceits and motivations of the characters.

It is a world of almost surreal excess which is ultimately so artificial that it sucks common meaning from the essential things that more common men know and understand - love, kindness, the immeasurable value of life itself.

Filled with irony, humor, sarcasm, intrigue, China Rich Girlfriend struck me as the perfect follow up novel for Crazy Rich Asians. It is a good, long, intelligent peek into a world that most of us will never know.

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