Smithsonian Associates Presents “Kevin Kwan: ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and Beyond”

August 13, 2020
News Release

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Kevin Kwan headshot by Jessica Chou

Kevin Kwan (Photo by Jessica Chou)

Smithsonian Associates—the world’s largest museum-based educational program—announces a live event and Q&A with author Kevin Kwan Wednesday, Sept. 23, at 6:45 p.m. ET through its new online learning initiative, Smithsonian Associates Streaming. Kwan will talk about his experience creating the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy and his new book, Sex and Vanity. He will also discuss how writing has inspired him to advocate for wider Asian representation in the media.

The 2018 film adaption of novelist Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, which featured a mostly East Asian cast—the first in Hollywood to do so since The Joy Luck Club in 1993—became the highest grossing romantic comedy in more than a decade. It also scored another distinction—last year the sky-blue gown worn by star Constance Wu in the film’s climactic wedding scene joined the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

His new novel Sex and Vanity gives E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View Kwan’s own distinctive spin. The story transforms Forster’s Lucy Honeychurch into Lucie Tang Churchill, a young mixed-race Asian American woman from an upper-class Northeastern family. Like her literary inspiration, Churchill finds herself torn between two men: the fiancé of her family’s dreams and George Zao, a man she is desperately trying to avoid falling in love with. Kwan sets the story against the backdrops of New York City and Capri, describing the luxurious lifestyles of his crazy rich characters—and offering the right amount of fictional escapism when real-life travel plans are on hold.

Ticket prices for the Smithsonian Associates’ presentation are $30 for general admission and $25 for Smithsonian Associates’ members. Copies of Sex and Vanity (Doubleday) are available for purchase from Politics and Prose, where ticket-holders can receive a 10% discount. For information, the public may call (202) 633-3030 or visit

For 55 years, Smithsonian Associates has produced vibrant educational and cultural programming that brings the Smithsonian to life. Inspired by the Smithsonian’s research, collections and exhibitions nearly 1,000 public programs spark creativity and excite learning in people of all ages each year.

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