Kelvin Kwan's bestseller shows Asians have sex appeal

Kelvin Kwan's bestseller shows Asians have sex appeal

TOKYO - The wealthy people who fill the pages of Crazy Rich Asians think nothing of draping themselves in jewellery, keeping live sharks in their living room or hiring a helicopter to fly off to a private island.

But author Kevin Kwan said some of the depictions of life among the very, very rich in his debut novel - aspects of which were taken from his personal experience as a member of an established Singaporean family - had to be toned down or cut.

Now a New York resident, he talked to Reuters about his book, the story of how Nicholas, heir to one of the richest Singapore families, takes his Chinese- American girlfriend Rachel home to meet the family, as well as portrayals of Asians in the media.

What got this book going?

It just really felt to me that there was a gap in terms of the sort of book we were seeing about Asia in America. There really seemed to be only two genres within fiction: historical fiction set in Asia, of the Amy Tan variety, for instance, and then the contemporary stories about Asian- American assimilation.

It seemed like nobody was really writing about Asia now.

There's so much emphasis on the economic might of China, of South-east Asia, Asian "Super Tigers" and things like that. But nobody was really looking from the perspective of a family story, of these individuals. Having a little bit of experience with that, I just thought it would be fun to set a story like that in Asia today.

Are you part of a family like this?

I would say the book is very satirical and it's high parody. There's a lot of exaggeration and outrageousness.

I came from an old and established Singapore family, not unlike the sort that Nicholas would have come from, but this is not a book about my family by any means.

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