The Wangs Vs. the World

The Wangs Vs. the World

Paperback - 2016
Average Rating:
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"A hilarious debut novel about a wealthy but fractured Chinese immigrant family that had it all, only to lose every last cent--and about the road trip they take across America that binds them back together. Charles Wang is mad at America. A brash, lovable immigrant businessman who built a cosmetics empire and made a fortune, he's just been ruined by the financial crisis. Now all Charles wants is to get his kids safely stowed away so that he can go to China and attempt to reclaim his family's ancestral lands--and his pride. Charles pulls Andrew, his aspiring comedian son, and Grace, his style-obsessed daughter, out of schools he can no longer afford. Together with their stepmother, Barbra, they embark on a cross-country road trip from their foreclosed Bel-Air home to the upstate New York hideout of the eldest daughter, disgraced art world it-girl Saina. But with his son waylaid by a temptress in New Orleans, his wife ready to defect for a set of 1,000-thread-count sheets, and an epic smash-up in North Carolina, Charles may have to choose between the old world and the new, between keeping his family intact and finally fulfilling his dream of starting anew in China. Outrageously funny and full of charm, The Wangs vs. the World is an entirely fresh look at what it means to belong in America--and how going from glorious riches to (still name-brand) rags brings one family together in a way money never could"--
Publisher: Toronto :, Harper Avenue,, [2016]
Edition: First Canadian edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781443448062
Branch Call Number: FIC CHA
Characteristics: 354 pages ; 23 cm
Alternative Title: Wangs versus the world

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GCPL_Angela Aug 28, 2017

A bit uneven for me, but I found the ending satisfying, and that made the ride worthwhile. Ultimately, each of the Wangs seems to mature and learn something in their riches-to-rags journey, and isn't character growth part of the point of a good novel?

The name-dropping of expensive brands and the meditations on "what is art" were the least interesting for me. I also thought based on the blurb from the cover ("uproarious!") that the book was going to have a much lighter tone than it did. I certainly wouldn't call it "uproarious" -- was any of it supposed to be funny? If anything, there might be a kind of dark comedy here under the surface, but it's very subtle. I was imagining more of a Griswald-style road trip, and what I got instead was actually a rather serious treatment of the meaning of success, the immigrant experience, the importance of family, etc. I'm not necessarily disappointed that that's what it ended up being, just a little confused at the chosen marketing. Maybe comedy sells better than drama?

I don't know that I'll remember this book months or years from now, but I closed it feeling pleased with the ending, so that counts for something.

b
brangwinn
Apr 16, 2017

I’ve got mixed feelings about this story. All of the characters seems to be self-centered people. I guess money can do that to you. But I was quickly caught up in the story of the rise and fall of a Chinese immigrant in the cosmetics manufacturing business.

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cmsclay
Jan 21, 2017

Let's see if I've got this right. A philandering father whose wife doesn't care about his cheating as long as her money, servants, and ostentatious house are secure, loses everything because he has the corporate saavy of a dried turnip. He dreams of returning to China as a feudal overlord who starves the overworked peasants working his fields. His kids are self absorbed trust fund brats who are obsessed with themselves and their sexual confusion. And we're supposed to like these characters?
The writing is jerky and disjointed as if the author was writing while doing something else at the same time.
I felt no connection or empathy to the characters or their fate. I couldn't take much more of the cliched sexual overtones (anal sex, pendulous breasts, and the size of black men's penises are mentioned in the first fifty pages). I don't think I've stopped reading a book so early after starting it in quite some time. This author may have potential after honing her craft and developing plots that are interesting and engaging as well as characters that deserve our attention.
But for now, I suggest passing on this one for something with more depth and writing skill.

Manateestarz Nov 22, 2016

A wonderfully funny novel with unusually engaging characters. It is an unexpected read because the characters all start out as types and then develop as fully formed, endearing people as the book progresses.

The author also gets extra kudos for her use of language. She writes some beautiful sentences such as "“The people of the world could be divided into two groups: those who used all of their chances, and those who stood still through opportunity after opportunity, waiting for a moment that would never be perfect." (This is actually the theme of the novel.)

I highly recommend this book.

JCLGreggW Sep 12, 2016

A sprawling, snarky, funny, and sincere novel that will keep a wide range of readers happy. Part family saga and part travel epic, after the 2008 financial collapse, patriarch Charles gathers up his family, road trips to New York, and dreams of returning to China to reclaim ancestral land. Meanwhile, the rest of his family all have their own agendas. Jade Chang's fresh, sparkling writing style and her insightful character work will absolutely enchant.

PimaLib_SusannahC Aug 18, 2016

Jade Chang’s debut novel tells the story of a Chinese man that immigrated to the United States to make his fortune. Charles Wang makes his millions in cosmetics, but loses everything in the great recession. Once the family home in Bel Air is repossessed, the Wang’s have to move in with the eldest daughter who lives in upstate New York. The self-absorbed family members adjust to their new reality during a cross-country road trip. Meanwhile, Charles is obsessed with the idea of going back to China to repossess his ancestral lands that were taken by the Communists. He'll spend the last of his savings on a trip to see what can be salvaged. The focus of the story changes between Charles, his three children and his second wife. A few sections wobble off course a bit, especially the stand-up comedy routines of the son. However, there are plenty of laughs and drama to keep the story moving along. Fun read.

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