Kevin Kwan needs little introduction—he is famous around the world as the mind behind the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, which gave readers an inside look at the lives of Asia’s wealthy and famous. Here, he discusses his new book, Sex and Vanity, and how it differs from his earlier novels.
Following the immense success of Crazy Rich Asians, did you need to step back and re-centre yourself to write a new book?
I really felt the need to do something totally different. The Crazy Rich Asians trilogy was a huge part of my life for eight years. I started writing it in 2009 and I was on this roller coaster until 2018, so it’s great to be able to slow down and think about a new project. Sex and Vanity is a book I have dreamt of writing for at least 10 years and it’s all come together now in a very nice way. After that crazy tidal wave that was Crazy Rich Asians, I finally knew how to tell a story I wanted to tell.
What is the idea behind Sex & Vanity?
This is still set in a world of privilege but this time it’s not about the money, it’s not knocking you over the head with brand names and incredible set pieces. This is a much more personal journey; the journey of Lucie Churchill. She’s “hapa,” half-Chinese and half-white, so it’s about really discovering herself, her identity and being torn between two cultural backgrounds and two very different families.
Has the trilogy affected the way you write and the audience you write for?
It gave me license to let myself play and not to try too hard. I’m just trying to tell an entertaining story. I wanted to make people laugh, I wanted to bring people joy, and I wanted to pay tribute to one of my favourite books of all time, A Room with a View [by E M Forester].