The Wangs Vs. the World

The Wangs Vs. the World

Book - 2016
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"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."--
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016
ISBN: 9780544734098
Branch Call Number: FIC CHANG 2016
Characteristics: 354 pages ; 24 cm
Alternative Title: Wangs versus the world


From Library Staff

A hilarious debut novel about a wealthy but fractured Chinese immigrant family that loses it all, and the road trip they take across America that binds them back together.

Having lost their riches in the crash of 2008, the Wangs embark on a curious and frequently hilarious odyssey searching for fortune and finding family.

From the critics

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Apr 10, 2018

This book kicked so much ass. I loved it from start to finish. It was heartbreaking, hilarious and perfect. Definitely worth picking up.

Nov 30, 2017

It took me a while to warm up to the eccentric Wang family but I've just finished the book and I have tears in my eyes. What a beautifully written story of family. I may not have enjoyed this book as much if I were younger, but I'm in my 60s and I appreciate the intellect displayed in this book and the well-crafted story. Seriously, just read it. Now I want to read Ms. Chang's next book ... there is one, right?

Nov 13, 2017

Hilarious? Well, kind of amusing at times. Everyone starts out clueless and after the road trip remains almost as clueless. It's funny/sad the observations and choices that the Wang family makes.

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.

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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