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Kevin Kwan: Crazy Rich Asians and Beyond

Evening Program

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1L0354
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Online registration is required.
  • For multiple registrations, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses.

The 2018 film adaption of novelist Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, which featured a mostly East Asian cast—the first in Hollywood to do so since The Joy Luck Club in 1993—became the highest grossing romantic comedy in more than a decade. It also scored another distinction: Last year the glamorous sky-blue gown worn by star Constance Wu in the film’s climactic wedding scene joined the collection of the Smithsonian’s American History Museum.

Kwan’s new novel Sex and Vanity gives E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View his own distinctive spin. The story transforms Forster’s Lucy Honeychurch into Lucie Tang Churchill, a young mixed-race Asian American woman from an upper-class Northeastern family. Like her literary inspiration, Lucie finds herself torn between two men: the WASPY fiancé of her family's dreams and George Zao, who she’s desperately trying to avoid falling in love with.

Kwan sets the story against the backdrops of New York City and Capri, deliciously describing the luxurious world and lifestyles of his crazy rich characters—and offering just the right amount of fictional escapism when real-life travel plans are on hold.

In conversation with Kat Chow, reporter and author of Seeing Ghosts (August 2021), Kwan talks about his experiences creating Sex and Vanity and the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. He also discusses how writing has inspired him to advocate for wider Asian representation in the media.

Copies of Sex and Vanity (Doubleday) are available for purchase from Politics and Prose.

Book Sale Information

  • Purchase your copy of Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan here.
  • SPECIAL NOTE: Politics and Prose is offering a 10% discount to Smithsonian Associates ticket-holders. To claim your discount, enter the code SPECIAL10 in the “Coupon discount” section of Politics and Prose's check-out page.

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Smithsonian Connections

Smithsonian magazine takes a look at how the flowing blue gown worn by Constance Wu as Crazy Rich Asians character Rachel Chu became a pop-culture sensation—and a symbol of new Asian visibility—that found a place in the collection of the American History Museum.