Kevin Kwan, the author of the bestselling phenomenon Crazy Rich Asians, will cheers Zibby Owens, the host of the award-winning literary podcast Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books, during a virtual happy hour hosted by BookHampton on Friday, July 17, at 5 p.m.
Kwan returns with his latest book Sex and Vanity, a glittering tale of love and longing. The story’s main character, Lucie Churchill, finds herself torn between two worlds—the WASP establishment of her father’s family and George Zao, a man she desperately wants to avoid falling in love with. The backdrop to parts of this high-society comedy is East Hampton, a place that Kwan is no stranger to. Get ready for “amazing food, fashion and bad behavior.”
We caught up with Kwan to learn more.
Tell us a little about “Sex and Vanity.”
“Sex and Vanity” is a high-society comedy that tells the story of Lucie Tang Churchill, a young New Yorker who attends an over-the-top wedding in Capri and meets a young man she’s instantly drawn to—but tells herself she shouldn’t like. A couple years go by and we find Lucie back in New York, engaged to a different young man who she hopes her family will approve of, but is probably all wrong for her. Maybe it’s not giving too much away to say that a love triangle ensues. Lucie’s mom is an accomplished Chinese-American geneticist originally from Seattle, and her late father is part of a blueblood New York family. These two different sides of her upbringing create the book’s heart, which is really the struggle for happiness and finding one’s own voice amidst all the clamor and competing messages of a noisy family. I should probably also mention there is a lot of amazing food, fashion and bad behavior along the way!
How did the idea for a virtual happy hour with Zibby Owens come about?
I have to give Zibby Owens and BookHampton all the credit. They came up with the idea for a virtual happy hour, and I love it! I think Zibby is an awesome writer, and she’s such a champion of other writers and an advocate for moms. I absolutely loved doing her podcast recently. We had a great conversation, and I look forward to continuing it at BookHampton on Friday evening.
Part of the book is set in East Hampton, can you tell us a little about that?
I would spend every summer in East Hampton for almost 20 years. So it’s a place I love, and I found so many situations and experiences ripe for fun storytelling and a bit of satirizing. The heroine of Sex and Vanity, Lucie Tang Churchill, grew up partly in the Hamptons and spends her summers there. So naturally a lot of the action in the second half of the book takes place in some of her regular haunts: her family’s home near Three Mile Harbor, Ditch Plains, Newtown Lane and certain private clubs that shall remain nameless (or discreetly renamed in the book).
Do you have any favorite places on the East End?
I haven’t been able to visit in the last few years, ever since the Crazy Rich Asians movie hit and I started traveling around the world eight months out of the year. But I wish I could be there right now! I love Nick & Toni’s, I’m totally addicted to the macaroni salad at Round Swamp Farm, Sant Ambroeus in Southampton has my favorite pistachio gelato, Sen in Sag Harbor satisfies my sushi cravings, and I have to confess I love the shopping…BookHampton, of course, Turpan and yes, the James Perse boutique. Ditch Witch in Montauk—I love and miss the old East Deck Motel, so many fun memories of escapes there.
Visit bookhampton.com to sign up for the happy hour.