Review: Kevin Kwan’s ‘China Rich Girlfriend’ Skewers Vulgar Wealth in Asia


kevinKevin Kwan’s brand of giddy wealth porn arrived in 2013 with “Crazy Rich Asians,” not a moment too soon to rescue a worn-out and useless genre. The vulgar rich had taken over reality TV, fictionalized TV (which seemed tepid by comparison), the occasional freakish documentary (like “The Queen of Versailles”) and the kind of fiction that heard its sell-by knell when “Bergdorf Blondes” and all its copycats came along. There was nothing new to be said about crass New Yorkers, Texans, Hollywood types or even tech billionaires, whose excesses weren’t usually that showy. A whole money-wasting continent had been milked dry.

But along came Mr. Kwan with a knowing attitude and all of Asia at his disposal. His Asian readers may get his à clef references best, but for those of us who have to check out his claims, it barely matters whether Ming Ka-Ching is the real name of Hong Kong’s second-richest man. If he doesn’t exist, Mr. Kwan has done well to invent him for “China Rich Girlfriend,” the second volume in what has been projected as a gossipy, good-humored trilogy that will follow the richest old families of Singapore, Hong Kong and a few from mainland China. They join in a single shared pursuit: watching in horror as their youngest generations squander money in ways so staggering that Western show-offs look like pikers by comparison.

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