Have you been on the hunt for a family road trip book that features an endearing cast of characters? Are you looking for a book full of charm and outrageously funny? 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.
The Wangs Vs The World was picked as one of Entertainment Weekly’s Most Anticipated Titles of 2016, it is a Fall 2016 Barnes & Noble Discover Pick, and it’s one of Library Journal’s “Five Big Debuts for Fall 2016!The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang
(Website, Twitter, Goodreads)Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on October 4th 2016
Genres: Asian American, Coming of Age, Family Life, Fiction, General, Humorous, Literary
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.
What people are saying about The Wangs Vs The World
“In Jade Chang’s highly entertaining debut novel THE WANGS VS. THE WORLD, Taiwanese-born American businessman Charles Wang loses his fortune to the 2008 recession and must unite his children to start fresh in China….A meditation on what it means to be an immigrant in America, The Wangs vs. the World shows the often surprising ways hardship can bring a dysfunctional family closer together.” —BuzzFeed
“One of the best debut novels of 2016, this warmhearted, wide-ranging novel tells the wholly modern story of the Wang family.” —Elle.com
“THE WANGS VS. THE WORLD is a funny and touching novel about what it means to belong in America.” —PopSugar
A Conversation With Jade Chang
Why did you decide to set the book in 2008, at the start of the financial collapse?
I first started thinking about this book right around then. I was working at a luxury magazine, so I got a real front row seat to rich people freaking out. It was an electric, uncertain time and it really felt like anything could happen in ways both good and bad. And then, in the late summer of 2008, I went to a ridiculously overthe-top party for Trump Tower Dubai. From the beginning it was clear that this party was going to be offensively ostentatious—the invites themselves were some kind of plaque encased in heavy slabs of overweight plastic. It was held at a mansion in Bel-Air, Cristina Aguilera performed, Cirque du Soleil © Amanda Yates Garcia performers stalked around on stilts, Wolfgang Puck himself was actually making and presenting food, and a good portion of that food was actually covered with 24 karat gold flakes. I may not be remembering this correctly, but in my memory there was a large, dark room with some sort of giant hologram projection of the proposed tower—which had not yet broken ground—atop some sort of topographic map. And even if that didn’t really exist, this was real: the party favors were iPod Touches for every guest, engraved with the Trump Tower Dubai logo.
It felt inevitable that the world would collapse under the weight of its own luxury. I remember standing next to a friend in the valet line and saying, “That’s it. It’s over. There’s going to be a huge recession.” And then, not long after, everything fell apart and the Dubai tower, of course, was never built.
In a way, that was the day I started working on this book.
Was that party the main inspiration for the book?
The party helped me coalesce my thoughts and provided a setting, but I’d say that the main inspiration for the book was a desire to write an immigrant novel that was kind of a rebellion against immigrant novels. I wanted to try to illuminate a new take on belonging in America, with immigrants who don’t yearn for acceptance or struggle to fit in. Instead, they’re here to knock shit down and rebuild the country in their own image! It was that joy and that anger that I wanted to capture!
Saina, the oldest daughter, is a disgraced art world ‘It’ girl—was she based on anyone in particular?
With that, I was able to draw on more real-life experience. As a journalist writing about art and culture I got to interview a lot of artists and designers and when I was an editor at Metropolis Magazine I went to Art Basel and a few design fairs. I didn’t go to art school, but my sister went to Cooper Union and I have a group of friends who all went to Cal Arts—both of those are art schools with a capital ‘A’—and others who are artists in Los Angeles so I’ve spent many, many evenings at openings of all sorts, which provided good background for Saina’s world. Saina wasn’t based on anyone that I know personally, but as someone who has written the kind of shiny lifestyle stories that make their subjects seem golden and enviable, I was interested in exploring what happens on the other side of that.
Winner receives copy of The Wangs vs the World
Giveaway open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.