Jaipur:25/2/21:Self-professed “observer” Kevin Kwan is back with his fourth novel titled Sex and Vanity. While he is still cherishing the overwhelming success of his bestselling, translated and movie-adapted novel, Crazy Rich Asians, he spoke about Sex and Vanity being inspired by E.M. Forster’s A Room With A View. In conversation with author Shunali Khullar Shroff, who has shone a light into Indian society, writing on feminism, hierarchy, travel and modern life, Kwan talked about disparity in wealth and much more, at the Jaipur Literature Festival 2021.
Singapore born, Kevin Kwan narrated his journey, talking about his family’s immigration to Texas when he was only 11. He expressed his shock when during his return visits to Asia, he found out how extremely rich most of his friends and family were. He disclosed that their ever-increasing wealth and status were so different to his “relatively normal middle-class life in the US” that he felt like an outsider but would often find himself, “behind this velvet curtain, which allowed me to see the foibles, really the comedy and the absurdity of their lives.”
Shroff described the book as a “very nuanced exploration of class hierarchies, racism and people’s identities.” Kwan revealed how he wrote Crazy Rich Asians as a form of therapy, a way of capturing memories while his father was fighting for his life. In the session, Kwan spoke about how this deeply personal project, found wings and carved out a new niche, but sadly after his father’s passing.
In reference and deference to the person who helped him fall in love with literature, travel and particularly India, Kevin laughingly admitted, “My Aunt warned that I was a dilettante and I really am, there are so many things that I still want to do.”
The Jaipur Literature Festival 2021 will take place till 28th February on an exclusive virtual platform.