Kevin Kwan (born 1973/1974) is a Singaporean novelist best known for his satirical novels Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems. His latest book, Sex and Vanity, was released in June 2020.
1973/1974 (age 45–46)
In 2014, Kwan was named as one of the "Five Writers to Watch" on the list of Hollywood's Most Powerful Authors published by The Hollywood Reporter. In 2018, Kwan made Time magazine's list of 100 most influential people and was inducted into The Asian Hall of Fame, a project of the Robert Chinn Foundation established in 2004.
Kevin Kwan was born in Singapore as the youngest of three boys, into an established Chinese Singaporean family. His great-grandfather, Oh Sian Guan, was a founding director of Singapore's oldest bank, the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation. His paternal grandfather, Sir Arthur Kwan Pah Chien M.D., was an ophthalmologist who became Singapore's first Western-trained specialist and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his philanthropic efforts. His maternal grandfather, the Rev. Paul Hang Sing Hon, founded the Hinghwa Methodist Church. Kwan is also related to Hong Kong-born American actress Nancy Kwan and former Singaporean finance minister Richard Hu, who was a cousin of his father.
While in Singapore, Kwan studied at the Anglo-Chinese School and lived with his paternal grandparents. Kwan's father and mother, an engineer and pianist respectively, moved the family to the United States when Kwan was 11. The family moved to Clear Lake, Texas, and Kwan attended Clear Lake High School, graduating when he was 16.
He attended the University of Houston-Clear Lake, where he earned a BA in Media Studies, after which he moved to Manhattan to attend Parsons School of Design in order to pursue a BFA in Photography. In New York, Kwan worked for Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, and Tibor Kalman's design firm M&Co. In 2000, Kwan established his own creative studio, clients of which included Ted.com, Museum of Modern Art, and The New York Times.
Kwan edited I Was Cuba (featuring photographs collected by Ramiro A. Fernández, published in 2007) and coauthored the book Luck: The Essential Guide with Deborah Aaronson (published in 2008).
Kwan became inspired to write Crazy Rich Asians in 2009 while caring for his father, who was dying of cancer. Kwan and his father would reminisce about their life in Singapore while driving to and from medical appointments, and Kwan began writing stories to capture those memories. Kwan stated one of his goals was to showcase the "educated families with style and taste that have been quietly going about their lives for generations" which went beyond the typical contemporary coverage of Asia which focused on conspicuous consumption. Friends had been urging him to commit his memories to paper as well. Moving to the United States has westernized his view of Asia, and he likens himself to "an outsider looking in" when describing his life in Singapore.
Crazy Rich AsiansEdit
Kwan published Crazy Rich Asians in 2013. The book was inspired by his childhood in Singapore; the second chapter more specifically was developed from a poem he had written years before entitled "Singapore Bible Study." Kwan wrote the poem, which describes the study group as "an excuse to gossip and show off new jewelry" for a creative writing course in college. In the process of turning that scene into a chapter of a novel, he was inspired to complete the entire story.
The novel was described as "a sprawling, multi-generational mock epic that centers on a clan of Singaporeans whose various factions gather from their respective lairs around the globe for a wedding that is the year's most talked-about event among the international Chinese aristocracy." Upon publication, it received positive reviews, became both a national and an international bestseller, and has been translated into twelve languages. In 2013, Hunger Games producer Nina Jacobson secured film rights to Crazy Rich Asians. The film was released in the United States on August 15, 2018. Kwan served as executive producer on the film, one of the conditions to selling the rights.
China Rich GirlfriendEdit
Kwan published the first sequel to Crazy Rich Asians entitled China Rich Girlfriend in June 2015. Similarly to Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend became an international bestseller. On August 15, 2018, it was reported that even before the release of the film adaptation of his first novel, Kwan had already been tasked with developing a film from the sequel China Rich Girlfriend. On April 29, 2019, CNBC reported the back-to-back filming of two sequels to Crazy Rich Asians set for filming in 2020. China Rich Girlfriend, as of April 2019, is currently in pre-production.
Rich People ProblemsEdit
Kwan's third and final installment of the Crazy Rich trilogy, titled Rich People Problems, was released in May 2017. In August 2018, Amazon Studios ordered a new drama series from Kwan and STX Entertainment. The unnamed series is set in Hong Kong and follows the "most influential and powerful family" along with their business empire. On April 29, 2019, CNBC reported the back-to-back filming of two sequels to Crazy Rich Asians set for filming in 2020. Rich People Problems, as of April 2019, is currently in pre-production.
Draft dodging allegationsEdit
The Ministry of Defence stated that Kwan had failed to register for National Service (NS) in 1990 and did not have a valid exit permit to stay overseas. In 1994, his application and subsequent appeal to renounce his Singapore citizenship without serving NS were rejected. Kwan is liable to a fine of up to $10,000 under the Enlistment Act.
- "A crazy year for author". The Straits Times. 3 December 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
- "Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan: 9780385546270 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books". PenguinRandomhouse.com. Retrieved 2020-06-17.
- Writer, Angela HauptcloseAngela HauptFreelance writerBioBioFollowFollowFreelance. "Review | Kevin Kwan moves on with 'Sex and Vanity,' but the characters are still crazy rich". Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-07-03.
- THR Staff. "Hollywood's Most Powerful Authors: 5 Writers to Watch". Retrieved 10 April 2016.
- Wu, Constance (30 March 2018). "Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2018". Time. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
- Robert Chinn Foundation. "The Asian Hall of Fame". Retrieved 21 February 2018.
- Ho, Olivia (14 May 2017). "'I'm no crazy rich Asian', says author Kevin Kwan". The Straits Times. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
- Symons, Emma-Kate. "Richer Than God – crazy lives of the Asian super rich". Retrieved 9 April 2016.
- Ghee, Alison. "'Crazy Rich Asians' author Kevin Kwan on privilege, excess and believability".
- Jann, Janice. "Author Kevin Kwan on 'Crazy Rich Asians' Film and Luxuries Money Can't Buy". Retrieved 9 April 2016.
- Kevin Kwan (16 August 2018). "The Story Behind "Crazy Rich Asians" Author, Kevin Kwan". Hong Kong Tatler (Interview). Interviewed by MJ Jose. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
- Leese, Samantha. "Behind 'Crazy Rich Asians': 15 Minutes with Kevin Kwan". Retrieved 9 April 2016.
- Ho, Olivia (14 May 2017). "'I'm no crazy rich Asian', says author Kevin Kwan". Retrieved 24 May 2020.
- Lindgren, John. "Bestselling Author of Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend". Archived from the original on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
- Magazines, SPH. "Inside job, From The Outside – China Rich Girlfriend's Author speaks". thepeakmagazine.com.sg. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
- "'I'm no crazy rich Asian', says author Kevin Kwan". The Straits Times. 14 May 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
- Lodhia, Pooja. "'Crazy Rich Asians' author Kevin Kwan claims his roots in Clear Lake-area of Houston". ABC13.com. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
- "Notable Alumni | University of Houston-Clear Lake". www.uhcl.edu. Retrieved 2018-04-10.
- Rougeau, Rose. "Interview: Kevin Kwan on World of 'Insane Fortunes' in New Novel 'China Rich Girlfriend'". Retrieved 2 November 2015.
- Fulwood, Jaclyn. "Friday, January 4, 2013: Maximum Shelf: Crazy Rich Asians". www.shelf-awareness.com. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
- Lindgren, John. "Kevin Kwan in Bangkok". Pattaya Today Newspaper. Archived from the original on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
- Kwan, Kevin, ed. (2007). I Was Cuba: Treasures from the Ramiro Fernández collection. Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0811860536.
- Aaronson, Deborah; Kwan, Kevin (6 May 2008). Luck: The Essential Guide. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780061491153. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
- Kevin Kwan (12 July 2013). "Interview: 'Crazy Rich Asians' Teach Author Kevin Kwan His Love of Fiction". Asia Society (Interview). Interviewed by Paul Chung. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
- Kevin Kwan (20 June 2013). "Kevin Kwan talks 'Crazy Rich Asians'". Entertainment Weekly (Interview). Interviewed by Jacqueline Andriakos. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
- Christensen, Lauren (June 2013). "Crazy Rich Asians Author Kevin Kwan on the Lavish Culture of Asia's Upper Crust: "The Reality Is Simply Unbelievable"". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
- Kevin Kwan (19 June 2018). "Q&A with Author & Executive Producer Kevin Kwan" (PDF) (Interview). Kinokuniya Singapore. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
- Ab, Suhana. "The Curious Case of Kevin Kwan". Retrieved 10 April 2016.
- Ghee, Alison. "'Crazy Rich Asians' author Kevin Kwan on privilege, excess and believability". Retrieved 10 April 2016.
- Siegel, Tatiana. "'Crazy Rich Asians': Color Force Nabs Film Rights to Best-Seller". Retrieved 10 April 2016.
- Carrie Wittmer (14 August 2018). "We talked to 'Crazy Rich Asians' author Kevin Kwan about the Herculean effort of making the first studio rom-com with Asian leads, and cosmetic surgery for fish". Business Insider.
- "Goodreads – Editions of China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan". Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- Ho, Karen (August 15, 2018). "Crazy Rich Asians Is Going to Change Hollywood. It's About Time". Time. pp. 40–46. Retrieved August 25, 2018. (physically published in August 27, 2018 issue; digitally published on August 15)
- Karen Gilchrist. "Growing up different helped me do my job better, says Crazy Rich Asians star Harry Shum Jr.," CNBC, April 29, 2019. 
- Biedenharn, Isabella. "Kevin Kwan teases final book in Crazy Rich Asians trilogy". Retrieved 11 April 2016.
- Andreeva, Nellie (3 August 2018). "Jet-setting Drama Series From 'Crazy Rich Asians' Author Kevin Kwan & STXtv In Works At Amazon". Deadline | Hollywood. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
- Karen Gilchrist. "Growing up different helped me do my job better, says ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ star Harry Shum Jr.," CNBC, Apr 29 2019. 
- Yong, Jeremy Au (22 August 2018). "Kevin Kwan, author of Crazy Rich Asians, defaulted on his NS obligations: Mindef". The Straits Times. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
- "Crazy Rich Asians author wanted in Singapore for dodging army". South China Morning Post. August 22, 2018.
- Wittmer, Carrie (22 August 2018). "'Crazy Rich Asians' author Kevin Kwan could face up to 3 years in prison if he returns to his native Singapore". Business Insider.
- Official Website
- Kwan, Kevin (9 August 2018). "Meet the Real Family That Inspired 'Crazy Rich Asians'". Town & Country. Retrieved 22 August 2018.