Thursday, 25 June 2015

Kevin Kwan Author Talk at North York Central Library | June 22, 2015

Hi everyone! I hope that you are all doing well. Today I want to share with you an event recap of an author talk I recently attended. It was this past Monday at the North York Central Library and it was an author talk for Kevin Kwan. For those of you that don't know, Kevin is the author of Crazy Rich Asians and his newly released sequel, China Rich Girlfriend.  Elaine Lui also joined the conversation and was our host for the evening so that was a lot of fun as well!
 Before the event began, Kevin gave Lainey a gift in a massive Cartier bag and it ended up being a Tiara~! Kevin said that it was fitting and that the Queen needed a crown. It was so cute! Lainey ended up wearing it for the entire duration of the event.
The event will be uploaded in full to youtube soon, but I thought I'd give you the coles notes of the event and some fascinating tidbits about Kevin and the book series!
- A lot of the younger generation reached out to Kevin to let him know they enjoyed the book and Kevin stated that it was quite "galvanizing" to hear them say that.
- Kevin and Lainey talked about the change in Chinese culture and consumerism and how those old traditional values are being eroded, so to speak, by this "new China" (the new book explores the wealthy and exclusive lifestyle of Hong Kong)
- Kevin talked about his upbringing in Houston, Texas and refers to it as a more "innocent" time
- The question of whether the irony of what Kevin is writing is received in Asia? The stories Kevin is writing is filtered through the lens of an American (being there in the East and then being away from it in the West) - they concluded that the younger generation are able to connect with it more than the old generation.
- Kevin and Lainey talked about real life examples that influenced the new character, Carlton Bao.
- Comparisons were made between Kevin and Truman Capote, as "observers"
- Kevin's writing exposes a darker side to Chinese culture, such as the sinister aspects of fame and wealth in Hong Kong society. Questions of what drives this society?
- Kevin stated that he is trying to create new stereotypes because he is trying to give a new voice to Asian Americans, a more contemporary voice.
- The same old trope of the villainized rich Chinese kept appearing in narratives and he wanted to go beyond that with a more sexy and empowered character.
- The titles about his books are solely about wealth. Not to be read as Crazy, Rich Asians. ;)
- His books can be read as style guides AND travel guides. (All the food he mentions is so enticing!)
- He has files on his computer for dresses, cars, apartments and more. He is a very visual person and therefore has every character planned down to what shoes they are wearing.
- The film version has been optioned and is in pre-production. It has been a very collaborative process so far. He is excited for the project and trying to let the experts do what they do best.
- He has always intended this series to be a trilogy. The 3rd book is completed, but in his head. And Kevin writes chronologically completely because for him, it unfolds like a movie.
Some questions about the series in general:
Question: Who would you say you are most emotionally drawn to?
Kevin's Answer: "It is a character that you will find out more about in Book 3, which you haven't seen much of yet."
Question: Which character's perspective was the easiest to write from?
Kevin's Answer: "Eddie's. Those chapters come so easy and it just flowed. Eddie is such a fascinating character to write from."
Question: Which character do you worry the most about?
Kevin's Answer: "Astrid."
Question: Who is the opposite of Eddie? More difficult to write from, if you had to say?
Kevin's Answer: "Nick."
Kevin concluded the talk that he did not write with any audience in mind but more so, simply the intention to make people laugh. It is really the reader's experience and he doesn't want to put any parameters on what the reader is experiencing what is reading and told the audience, "So Enjoy!" :)
I got to meet Kevin afterwards which was a big fan-girl moment for me! He was so nice and charming and I'm so happy I got my books signed. We talked about classics for a bit and how I didn't see the influences before so it warrants a reading of Anthony Trollope! ;) It was an awesome evening and meeting Kevin as only made me more excited for the third book in the series! :)
For my full review of Crazy Rich Asians, you can click here and for China Rich Girlfriend, you can click here


  1. Sounds like it was an awesome event!! Thanks for posting such a detailed recap, I had been looking forward to the event so I was sad I couldn't go - this made me feel better because you gave some interesting tidbits. I'll be sure to keep an eye out for the full interview on YouTube too :)

  2. Aww it's so cute that he gave Lainey the tiara, that is so adorable. :D Really exciting that you get to meet him, he seems really sweet and sincere. Can't wait to read this book you've honestly got me so excited about it!! xxxxxx