Before author Kevin Kwan moved to Texas from Singapore, he grew up in a wealthy neighborhood. He was used to seeing luxurious gated homes with fountains and security guards. Years later, Kwan turned his memories of Asia into a poem, "Singapore Bible Study," which he wrote for a college course. The poem detailed the luxurious lifestyle of the Singapore he knew, and it won him a local poetry award. In 2013 Kwan turned the poem into a best-selling trilogy of books, starting with Crazy Rich Asians. The film adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians was released in August of 2018.
Kwan was born and raised in Singapore, where he lived with his parents and grandparents. They lived in a wealthy neighborhood full of modern houses and technology, but Kwan lived in a comparatively older home. He told South China Morning Post, "We lived in an old house with my grandparents, while so many of my schoolfriends got to live in these cool high-rise apartments with wall-to-wall carpeting and bunk beds ... all I wanted was a bunk bed." Although his house did not match the luxurious apartments his friends lived in, Kwan attended a prestigious private school, the Anglo-Chinese School in Singapore.
He did not realize the privileged lifestyle he lived in Singapore until he moved to Houston, Texas, when he was 11 years old. In Houston, his family lived in a simple suburban neighborhood. Kwan attended a local high school and spent much of his time reading American literature and adjusting to the cultural change in lifestyle.
After high school, Kwan enrolled at the University of Houston-Clear Lake for media studies. He wrote for the campus newspaper, joined the literature club, and was the vice president of the media association. It was during college that Kwan first discovered his love and talent for writing. In one of his courses, he wrote "Singapore Bible Study," a poem about the lavish lifestyles of wealthy Singaporean women. He won a local poetry award and was encouraged to continue writing. In 1994 Kwan graduated with a bachelor's degree in media studies with a minor in literature.
Move to Manhattan
Although Kwan loved writing, he had other passions he wanted to pursue first, namely photography and design. He moved to New York to attend Parsons School of Design. While there, he worked for Martha Stewart Living and Interview magazines. Upon his graduation from Parsons in 2000, Kwan opened his own studio, where he served as a creative consultant for TED.com and created pieces for the Museum of Modern Art. He also helped organize and produce coffee table books, including Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry, which rekindled his love for writing.
Kwan wanted to write more works like "Singapore Bible Study," but he kept pushing it off. In 2009 Kwan's father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, an experience that led Kwan to reevaluate his own future plans. He told Hashtag Legend, "I realised that life was so short and that there's no [more] perfect time to do something than now. Why should I wait until I was retired to write this book?" With that in mind, Kwan began compiling research for his debut novel, Crazy Rich Asians, which was published in 2013 and became a New York Times best seller.
Novel to Film
The success of Crazy Rich Asians led Kwan to write the other two installments in the trilogy in rapid succession. In 2015 he released China Rich Girlfriend to worldwide acclaim. Two years later, Kwan published the final installment, Rich People Problems. All three novels were loosely inspired by his childhood and the social politics of the wealthy in Asia.
In 2017 the film adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians was announced. Kwan became an executive producer on the film and was involved in discussions about casting, set design, costume design, and screenwriting. The film, starring Constance Wu and Henry Golding, was the first Hollywood film with an all-Asian cast since The Joy Luck Club (1993) and the first Hollywood romantic comedy with an all-Asian cast. The film was released in August of 2018.
Kwan was named to Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people of 2018 for his efforts to represent Asian experiences on a global stage. When asked about his inspiration for writing, he told Hashtag Legend, "I come from a place where I just want to make people laugh.... I'm just having fun with these stories and revealing human nature." As of 2018, Kwan lived in New York City and was slated to develop a television series in collaboration with STXtv and Amazon.
Addresses: Home--New York, NY. Web site--www.kevinkwanbooks.com.
Named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people, 2018.
- "Author Kevin Kwan on 'Crazy Rich Asians' Film and Luxuries Money Can't Buy," Hashtag Legend, http://hashtaglegend.com/post/kevin-kwan-crazy-rich-asians-movie-china-rich-girlfriend-singapore (August 7, 2018).
- "'Crazy Rich Asians' Author to Develop Original Drama Series for Amazon," Variety, https://variety.com/2018/tv/news/crazy-rich-asians-author-kevin-kwan-amazon-series-1202894530 (August 7, 2018).
- "'Crazy Rich Asians' Author Kevin Kwan on Privilege, Excess and Believability," South China Morning Post, https://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/books/article/1845149/crazy-rich-asians-author-kevin-kwan-privilege-excess-and (August 7, 2018).
- "Kevin Kwan Books," Kevin Kwan Official Web Site, http://www.kevinkwanbooks.com (August 7, 2018).
- "Talking with Kevin Kwan about 'Rich People Problems' and Casting for 'Crazy Rich Asians,'" NYLON, https://nylon.com/articles/kevin-kwan-rich-people-problems-interview (August 7, 2018).
- "UHCL Launched a Dream Come True for Best-Selling Alumnus," University of Houston-Clear Lake, https://blog.uhcl.edu/news/uhcl-launched-a-dream-come-true-for-best-selling-alumnus (August 7, 2018).