Kevin Kwan

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  • Born:
  • Nationality: Singaporean
  • Profession: Novelist

62

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A lot of the people who live the lives of 'Crazy Rich Asians' don't see the humour of their lives simply because this is just who they are. Even though I'm from that part of the world, I'm no longer part of that world.
All Americans knew was 'The Joy Luck Club' and children of dry cleaners trying to assimilate. The Asia that I was seeing was a world of people who are incredibly sophisticated, and I wanted to represent that side.
As a child, I could bike down the hill from my house and grab an ice-cold bottle of soda from the neighborhood grocer, which was nothing more than a corrugated metal shack run by two Indian men clad in sarongs.
Asian literature is evolving with the people. It's always a reflection on what's happening to the culture at large.
At least when it comes to food, there's no snobbery in Singapore. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
Canada has become such a staging area for Chinese money. Money, Coins & Minting
Certainly, living in the U.S., as I have for over two decades, you see how Asians are portrayed in the media... I didn't see myself represented, you know, when I used to look at ads on TV.
'China rich' is the new 'crazy rich.' It's a new level of outrageousness. It comes from this world where overnight fortunes have been made, but the fortunes are so ginormous compared to anything we've ever seen in the history of the world. History
Especially in the West, people want to understand Asia on a deeper level because it's become the engine of the world economy, like it or not.
Even if they're not Asian or super rich... everyone has a nagging mother. Everyone has that obnoxious uncle, or that cousin who's a bit too snobby.
Growing up in Singapore, I wasn't allowed to visit China. So when I was finally able to go there after the country began opening up to tourism in the 1990s, I found it to be utterly astounding.
I do believe that peoples' natures can be changed, and they have to be changed if we want to live in this modern world and be a part of it.
I go to Shenzhen, China, and am taken to a vast luxury spa with a hundred leather recliners and a hundred accompanying plasma screen televisions bolted to the ceiling.
I grew up at a time in Singapore - the '70s and '80s - where it was still possible to go riding around the island barefoot. And I was one of these kids that was just climbing trees and running around the neighbourhood. Time
I know an elderly society matron in Singapore who would rather walk in the scorching sun for blocks on end rather than have her chauffeur drive into the Central Business District at peak hour and pay the $1.50 surcharge. Society ;Business, Commerce & Finance
I live in New York, but I still get the village gossip. My apartment is a crash pad for so many Singaporean cousins and friends.
I met a Shanghai photographer who finds these old streets and matches the French names to what they are today. I was able to find my grandfather's block, and just walking the same streets and finding his house was deeply moving. I finally felt connected to China.
I remembered that my grandfather had spent his teenage years in Shanghai and that he went back after he finished medical school to work there in a hospital. So I went back into my family archives and was able to find out his exact address; it was a street that was in the French Concession. Health, Healthcare & Medicine ;Families, Children & Parenting ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I sort of wanted to reveal this other side of Asia: Southeast Asia, where the Chinese have been wealthy for generations and have different ways of relating to money. I wanted to sort of reveal this world to readers. Money, Coins & Minting
I spent the first 12 years of my life growing up in Singapore. Back then, in the early '80s, it was still a tropical island at the tip of the Malay Peninsula striving to shine on the world stage. Life
I think snobbery is one of the oldest customs in the world, and the rich will always find ways to rank each other and make themselves feel more special than others.
I think, at least for me, I'm so impressed by Shanghai and how all of China continues to evolve. On a style level, you're seeing this increased sophistication and brand awareness.
I wanted to explore what all this new-found wealth means for the different generations of Chinese who have to live together in this place that is transforming at warp speed into the richest country on the planet.
I wanted to introduce a contemporary Asia to a North American audience.
I was born in Singapore, and I lived there until I was 12. I had a very fortunate upbringing.
I would not call my family 'traditional Chinese.' We were more what I would term the Colonial Chinese. Families, Children & Parenting
If I were to generalize a bit, I would say that the ultra rich in Asia live on a scale that far surpasses the wealthy in the U.S. or Europe.
If you're the water boiler king of China, you're selling a billion water boilers.
I'm not revealing any deep, hidden secret that there are wealthy people in Asia.
I'm not sure if being Chinese really helped, but I do think that if a non-Asian had written a book called 'Crazy Rich Asians,' they might not have been looked upon so kindly.
In Asia, it's customary to get together with your entire extended family on a regular basis, and it's all rife with politics. Families, Children & Parenting ;Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
In order for me to write a scene, it's very important for me to see and experience everything with my own eyes, so yes, I was able to visit some remarkable houses and destinations while I was in China.
In Singapore, there may be 50 old-money families, but you wouldn't know them to look at them.
It used to be, on TV, you'd see only two types of Asians. You'd see the science geek who's using his mobile phone or something like that, or you'd see a very token Asian family - yuppie mother and father and two little Asian kids. It's the last barrier for Hollywood. Families, Children & Parenting ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
It would have been amazing to have been a student at Oxford during that golden moment in the 1910s, rubbing elbows with the likes of Aldous Huxley and T.E. Lawrence, before World War I shattered everything forever. War & Peace
It's human nature when you first make your big fortune to want to show off a bit. I don't begrudge that whatsoever. Nature
It's not normal to go into a house and see a pond in the middle of the living room full of baby sharks. It's not normal to go to someone's garage and see a private plane.
I've always been drawn to the Edwardian period in England. To me, it seems like such a fascinating time, when the British Empire was at the height of its powers and the strict mores of the Victorian age were dissipating into the decadence of King Edward's reign. Time
I've lived in New York City for over twenty years now, and every single day is like a new adventure. At this point, there are many places I'd love to visit, but I can't imagine living anywhere else on the planet. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I've recently rediscovered Anthony Trollope. I used to read him back in college, and a friend turned me on to a whole new series of his work, 'The Palliser Series.' It's a series of seven or eight books. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Living in the West, you see how there's only two versions of how Asian men are supposed to be. Either they're very nice, yuppie husbands with children in ads, or they're IT geeks.
My books are comedies; I want to take my readers on a jet-setting romp, make them laugh, make them swoon at the beautiful settings, and maybe even make their mouths water at all the food. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
My father came from old money. There was less of an expectation for the children to earn a living. Money, Coins & Minting
My father grew up in a life of extreme privilege. Life
My father went to boarding school in Sydney when he was 14.
My grandmother used to get her shoes made in Paris in the '30s, and they would be shipped to her in Singapore.
My grandparents were far more English in their manners than they were Chinese. For example, we spoke English at home, had afternoon tea every day, and my grandfather, who attended university in Scotland, would smoke his pipe after dinner.
My mother likes to say that I was conceived to shop - not just born to shop. My whole life as a child was following her and her sister and friends around on her shopping trips. Life
No matter our background, we all have crazy families.
Old money in Southeast Asia is much more discrete and low key. It's about not wearing brand names. It's about being invisible, almost. The billionaire can be taking the bus with you. Money, Coins & Minting
One of the dreams on my wish list is to spend more time in Thailand. Time
People have always been fascinated by the foibles of the wealthy and privileged.
Such huge money has been made in China - it can be hundreds of millions in a year - and there's a need to validate it by showing what they can buy and how much of it. Money, Coins & Minting
The characters that populate my books are global nomads in their own right, keeping multiple homes around the world and constantly jet-setting to new places.
The China Rich seem to be spending on a scale that's just beyond anything we've ever seen before. They are building and buying an insane amount of luxury residences around the world, commissioning huge flying palaces from Boeing, and paying ridiculous amounts for art. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
The idea of Asian ascendancy has entered public culture.
The most important thing to keep in mind is the incredible diversity of talent that's out there - there are so many great actors from all over Asia, from Singapore and Hong Kong to the Philippines and Mainland China, not to mention many great Asian-American actors who are eager for fun and challenging roles.
There are old-money Asians that would never be caught dead with a Chanel handbag or sporting anything that has a label it. Sports & Athletics
There's always been this tradition of satirizing these rich groups of people.
There's so much emphasis on the economic might of China, of Southeast Asia, Asian 'Super Tigers' and things like that. But nobody was really looking from the perspective of a family story, of these individuals. Families, Children & Parenting
To me, families are fascinating. I choose to explore it through comedy and through comic situations.
Writers often say that characters begin to write themselves, and I never used to believe that. I always thought that was complete hogwash.