Alamak! as they say in Singapore. Please say it isn’t over! Of course everything’s wrapped up perfectly and tied with a...

RICH PEOPLE PROBLEMS

The final installment of this bestselling saga of life among the billionaires of Singapore puts the family matriarch at death’s door—which means somebody’s going to inherit her exquisite estate.

The fairy tale/soap opera/lux-a-thon that began with Crazy Rich Asians (2013) and China Rich Girlfriend (2015) comes to a fittingly majestic and hilarious end in Kwan’s third novel. When Su Yi’s health precipitously fails, Shang-Young family members from all over the globe assemble at Tyersall Park—some out of genuine concern, others to callously go after their piece of the pie (this contingent is led by the always hilariously awful and overdressed Eddie Cheng). The only two family members missing are those Su Yi is most attached to—her grandchildren Nicky Young and Astrid Leong. Nicky hasn’t spoken to his grandmother since he married beneath his station five years ago, and though he tries to rush to her side, the guards at Tyersall Park have been instructed not to let him in. How can that be? Meanwhile, Astrid is in the midst of getting engaged to her beloved Charlie Wu at a palace in India complete with elephants when paparazzi hell breaks loose, unleashing a chain of events that includes a leaked sex tape and a suicide attempt involving a Lindsay Adelman chandelier. As the sharks circle at Tyersall Park, related dramas play out around the globe, including an all-out, multicontinental war between Kitty Pong and Colette Bing. Also unfolding is the amazing back story of Su Yi’s secret involvement in World War II, which turns out to have significant bearing on her legacy. Readers who thought they didn’t like to read about rich people will quickly lose all high-minded pretensions as they revel in the food, fashions, real estate, and art so lusciously strewn through this irresistible, knowing, and even sometimes moving story. Things that are this much fun are usually illegal.

Alamak! as they say in Singapore. Please say it isn’t over! Of course everything’s wrapped up perfectly and tied with a (priceless, hand-painted, 15th century) bow—but not since we were kicked out of Hogwarts and Downton Abbey have we felt so adrift.

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-54223-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2017

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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