Kevin Kwan's new novel, China Rich Girlfriend, inspired by rich Vancouverites
'Canada has become a staging area for Chinese money,' says the bestselling satirical author
The new book, a sequel to his 2013 international bestseller and soon-to-be feature film, Crazy Rich Asians, transports readers to a wealthy world riddled with luxury brands and a set of scheming characters who would put Gossip Girl's socialites to shame.
Although Kwan's latest rendering of Asian affluence derives from jet-setting tech billionaires he's met or read about, he concedes that Canada's Chinese community also influenced his writing.
Born and raised in Singapore until the age of twelve, the Asian-American novelist draws from his lavish upbringing in Southeast Asia, but suggests that the wealthy cohort in Vancouver cannot be ignored.
"[Asian wealth] is especially prevalent in Vancouver," said Kwan, who described the influx of "Hong Kong rich" immigrants to Vancouver in the mid 1990s.
From Shanghai to Chopstick Hill
Although the novel's crop of characters romp around Mainland China, Kwan says there are parallels between Vancouver's super elite and his moneyed Chinese characters.
"UBC is known as the University of a Billion Chinese," he said, smiling.
Kwan also explains that the aesthetic of Vancouver's luxury condos has become desirable to the upper crust back in China.
New money, more problems
The characters unabashedly flaunt their accoutrements with no shortage of flashy cars, luxury brands, and ostentatious penthouses, but it hasn't always been that way.
China Rich Girlfriend's colourful cast of characters don't exemplify this old-money mantra. In fact, they personify what Kwan describes as "China rich".
Whether you can relate to old money, new money, or no money, Kwan promises that his novel's themes are fundamentally universal.
"Even if they're not Asian or super rich … everyone has a nagging mother," he says. "Everyone has that obnoxious uncle, or that cousin who's a bit too snobby."
Kevin Kwan describes the "whole new of level" of wealth in the video above.