Hope you all had a good vacation week. My kids fell sick one after the other -- I think they had the flu -- and we had to cancel many plans. So I am really looking forward to unwinding with you this Tuesday evening as we discuss Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan! Suggested discussion question are below.*
Drop us a line and let us know if we can hope to see you!
*N.B. I did not do any Wikipedia research for these discussion questions!
1. Did you like this book?
2. Could this book have been written by a woman? How would she tell the story differently?
3. Did you try to learn the characters and family trees or did you just trek through?
4. Would you have agreed to fly to Singapore to meet Nick's family if you were in Rachel's shoes?
5. Was there a character you identified with?
6. Was there a time you wanted to jump into a character's shoes -- either to be them or to steer them in a different direction?
7. Was there a character you read with more or less favor as the book progressed?
8. What did character development look like in this book?
9. What do you make of the attitudes and habits of the "old money" families compared to the "new money" families?
10. How does Nick's life in NYC compare and contrast to the life his family lives in Singapore?
11. What do you make of the fusion of cultures in Singapore?
12. The author drops names of designers and describes details (in furniture and otherwise) that would unnoticed to the untrained eye. Which characters share this knowledge? Do Rachel and Nick share it? Would Rachel really describe things in this way? And if this is their language, is it possible for someone to know this language in detail and still be as indifferent to it as Nick is?
13. Kwan writes from many different perspectives, sometimes multiple points of view per chapter, and yet, do the characters have distinct voices?
14. How does Rachel react to the wealth around her?
15. Which characters give any consideration to the needs of those around them or the needs of the rest of the world? Was anyone generous in this book? (Nick, when referring to the newspaper coverage of Colin's wedding, p 167; Michael Teo on p 265: "I can't watch those people spend a gazillion dollars on a wedding when half the world is starving.")
16. Has there been a time in your life when you've felt trapped in your circumstances, like you couldn't imagine another way of life? (Francesca Shaw, for example, details down to the penny her reasons for requiring a certain level of income. p 201-2.)
17. Dr. Gu regrets the chance to tell the real story about Dr. Young (p 235-6). What other real stories do you wish you knew of these characters' lives? It's as if this book reads like a gossip magazine and leaves us craving genuine news.
18. How did growing up without a mother affect Nick and Colin's outlook on life and help them avoid the materialistic world?
19. What types of marriages tolerate affairs (Fiona) or not (Neena), and how does Astrid struggle with what she can tolerate and mend in her own marriage?
20. Can you blame Michael for faking an affair? What do you make of how the family treats him, like a handyman?
21. Throughout the book we continually scrutinize Nick and his family, but how did your opinion of Rachel evolve? In particular, what did you make of her request to Nick to get her a hotel room in order to get away from him in a taxi (361)?
22. Was there a point when you would have wanted to walk out on Nick? Would you have picked the moment Rachel did?
23. What parallels can you draw between this tale and Pride and Prejudice or Wuthering Heights or other works?
24. Are Nick and Rachel going to make it? What type of life would satisfy all of their values?
Thank you for coming out on such a chilly night to discuss Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan! We agreed that while we were entertained, we weren't sure that meant we liked the book. Still, some of us might go on to read the second and third volumes of this outlandish trilogy. We considered trekking to Singapore together to partake of the hawker stalls, but since so many of us enjoyed the movie, perhaps we should take a book club field trip to see the sequel when it comes out in the theater? :)
For now, with great anticipation, we look forward to discussing Educated by Tara Westover in March!
Hope to see you there!
The Tipsy Mamas' Book Club is co-hosted by Corinne Foster and myself, though the spirit of our discussions is flavored by many readers.