THE WANGS VS. THE WORLD by Jade Chang

THE WANGS VS. THE WORLD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A Chinese-American family tumbles from riches to rags in Chang’s jam-packed, high-energy debut.

The financial crisis of the last decade is turning out to be a gold mine for American writers, one which includes a rich comic vein. Here, an immigrant businessman named Charles Wang has lost his cosmetics empire, his house, and his cars. His son (a wannabe stand-up comic) will have to leave college and his daughter (a precocious fashion blogger) must withdraw from private school. Once he fires their live-in maid, he takes back the car he gave her and drives the family across the country to live with his oldest daughter (a disgraced conceptual artist) in the Catskills. Like many Chinese families, the Wangs lost their ancestral land in the communist takeover, but Charles is determined to get it back. His explanation: “What if all the Persian kids in Beverly Hills torched their Ferraris and smashed their bottles of Dior Homme before joining the Taliban? What if they marched through the city and snatched up properties, pulling you onto the street and calling you a godless capitalist pig, kicking you with feet still clad in the tasseled Prada loafers they couldn’t bear to relinquish? Wasn’t your house still rightfully yours? Wouldn’t you want it back after they were inevitably vanquished by some makeshift Arizona militia?” Switching among the points of view of all the Wangs and several supporting players, racing back and forth in time and across the country and the world, dropping into Chinese, stuffing in stand-up routines and savvy details on finance, journalism, the beauty industry, and the art world, this debut novelist holds nothing back.

Head-spinning fun with many fine moments—but the emotional aspects of the book are weakened by the barrage effect.

Pub Date: Oct. 4th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-544-73409-8
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2016




Kirkus Interview
Jade Chang
October 3, 2016

In Jade Chang’s debut novel The Wangs vs. the World, Charles Wang is mad at America. A brash, lovable immigrant businessman who built a cosmetics empire and made a fortune, he’s just been ruined by the financial crisis. Now all Charles wants is to get his kids safely stowed away so that he can go to China and attempt to reclaim his family’s ancestral lands—and his pride. Charles pulls Andrew, his aspiring comedian son, and Grace, his style-obsessed daughter, out of schools he can no longer afford. Together with their stepmother, Barbra, they embark on a cross-country road trip from their foreclosed Bel-Air home to the upstate New York hideout of the eldest daughter, disgraced art world it-girl Saina. But with his son waylaid by a temptress in New Orleans, his wife ready to defect for a set of 1,000-thread-count sheets, and an epic smash-up in North Carolina, Charles may have to choose between the old world and the new, between keeping his family intact and finally fulfilling his dream of starting anew in China. “Switching among the points of view of all the Wangs and several supporting players, racing back and forth in time and across the country and the world, dropping into Chinese, stuffing in stand-up routines and savvy details on finance, journalism, the beauty industry, and the art world, this debut novelist holds nothing back,” our critics writes. View video >

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