When Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians has a mother in Singapore telling her girls to finish everything on their plates because ‘there are children starving in America,’ it’s O.K. to get the joke. There’s no need to dwell on what it really means. Crazy Rich Asians is this summer’s ‘Bergdorf Blondes,’ over-the-top funny and a novelty to boot. Mr. Kwan delivers nonstop hoots about a whole new breed of rich, vulgar, brand-name-dropping conspicuous consumers, with its own delicacies, curses, vices, stereotypes (‘I hope she’s not one of those Taiwanese tornadoes!’) and acronyms. According to Mr. Kwan, this crowd uses U.B.C., as the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, is known, to mean ‘University of a Billion Chinese.’ How rich and vulgar are the Anglophile Asians of this debut novel? Rich enough to throw a diamond of more than 30 carats into a snowdrift and not look for it. So vulgar that a Cirque du Soleil troupe has to show up to convey that things have gotten crass. So steeped in wretched excess that one man boasts about the precise temperature his climate-controlled shoe closet should be.
—Janet Maslin, The New York Times