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The Wangs vs. the World

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3.32  ·  Rating details ·  12,477 ratings  ·  1,818 reviews
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. No
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Hardcover, 355 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Margaret Pagnotta I was a little disappointed in the ending.
Lisa K Huh - I enjoyed this weird family and their somewhat epic trip. Certainly worth borrowing if not buying.

Community Reviews

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3.32  · 
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 ·  12,477 ratings  ·  1,818 reviews


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Emily May
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: modern-lit, 2016, botm
Hilarious? Well I obviously didn't get it.

The Wangs vs. the World has been getting a lot of buzz lately, riding in on the recent wave of financial crisis lit. It's about a wealthy immigrant Chinese family in America - The Wangs - and how they lose everything in the wake of the 2008 economic disaster (it is actually the second book I've read in the last week about the crisis - the other being Behold the Dreamers).

Firstly, I know it's a personal thing but this is not my brand of humour. It's silly
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Jesse (JesseTheReader)
This was a miss for me and I so desperately wanted to like it. There were still things about it that I enjoyed, like the message of money and how it can't ultimately give you everything you need in life and how it can all be taken away from you at any moment. I also felt there was a great display of character growth from a few of the characters. But... this felt like a giant puzzle where all the pieces don't feel like they really fit together, but they do. There were several outrageous subplots ...more
Larry H
Sep 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
Before I start my review of Jade Chang's The Wangs vs. the World , here's a question: how do you feel when an author has their characters frequently speak in a different language, and they don't provide translation? Does that irritate you? It does me, even if I can generally figure out what they're saying.

"History had started fucking Charles Wang, and America had finished the job."

Charles Wang was a force to be reckoned with, a self-made man who left his home in Taiwan and over the years, built
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Cheri
Jun 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
NOW AVAILABLE

This debut novel is a very entertaining read. In some ways, it’s similar to The Nest, but without the backstabbing sibling rivalry, with somewhat quirkier and more likeable characters. It has its moments of being charming, despite everything negative that the family is going through. They lose their home, their money, pretty much everything, after the market crashes in 2008. Grace, the youngest, has a particularly interesting / amusing view on the whole “escapade” of pulling her out
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Paromjit
This is a novel that immerses itself in the Wang family when their wealth disappears completely in the 2008 financial markets crash. It is exacerbated by Charles Wang's inability to follow the advice given by experts, in his arrogance he believes he knows better and lives to rue his irrational decisions. Charles was raised in Taiwan and came to the US with nothing. As a first generation immigrant, he built up a cosmetics fortune. He is married for the second time to Barbra, yes, named after Barb ...more
Angela M
Oct 05, 2016 marked it as abandoned-not-for-me

I'm less than a third of the way in and I've already decided this is not for me . It could be that I just don't have a sense of humor as I wasn't finding the story as hilarious as some others have described it. A few years ago I would have gritted my teeth and read it, but I'm at the age where I think life is too short and I so value my reading time that I don't think twice about quitting a book that I probably won't enjoy. I think it's just not my kind of book and I should have known better th
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Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

I really should have followed the advice of America’s favorite T.V. dad on this one . . . .



I just couldn’t help myself, though. I mean look at that cover. Adorable! And then when I discovered it was about not only one of my favorite things . . . .



But also about a super-rich family who lost all of their money and whose only hope to regain their fortune was by returning to China and laying claim on some old-but-not-forgotten land, I wa
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Liz
Jan 09, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldn-t-finish

I was looking forward to this book. But it never succeeded in grabbing my interest. It was supposed to be funny, right?

There's a premise similar to The Nest, in that a family that had money loses it all. Kids that thought they would never have to worry, now are just like the rest of us. I don't have to like the characters to like a book. But if I don't like the characters, I do need to like the plot. Here, the plot was boring. As my husband said when I was explaining how unhappy i was with the
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Ellie
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
What a wonderful book; one of the most satisfying reads I've had in a while.

The Wangs are a family of five: Charles, the father, a wealthy manufacturer of cosmetics living in Los Angelos, and his children, Saina, a New York-based artist who, on the heels of a scandalous show has retreated to a small town in upstate New York, Andrew, the college student aiming for a career as a stand-up comedian, and Grace, the teenager with a fashion blog, as direct and fresh as she is. And then there's Barbra (
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Laurie Anderson
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this story. It took a couple of turns I wasn't expecting and I loved that. The multiple points of view were handled skillfully, as are the dialog, and layers of interwoven personal dramas. I so enjoyed the honesty and tenderness of the family, and the shifting scenery. I really liked the occasionally phrases and peeks of Mandarin.

I wish that the book hadn't ended quite to suddenly - another 6- 80 pages would have been much more to my liking. But all in all, this is an incredibl
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Maxwell
Nov 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, i-own-it, botm
I expected a lot more from this book, and it's often those books that are the most disappointing. But I would've rather hated this book than feel apathetic towards it, as I do. I appreciate what the book was trying to do; it's core message and overall tone were interesting and generally enjoyable. However, the execution was bizarre. There are whole chapters, even whole plots, that I felt were unnecessary or vague in that they didn't seem to contribute to the through line of the novel. And while ...more
Hannah
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, fiction
It is 2008 and the Wang family have just lost all their money and their company due to the not so great decisions made by their father, Charles. Charles and his wife Barbra pick up the youngest two children and embark on a cross-country journey to Saina's place, the oldest daughter.

There seem to have been several books in this one, one that I enjoyed and one that I really really didn't. I liked the beginning and the end and thought the middle would drag on forever. I liked Saina and Grace and w
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Lauren Strasnick
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book has EVERYTHING: riches! Rags! It girls! Art stars! Stand-up comedians! Organic farmers! Helicopters! Virgins! Sex! Boarding school bitches! It's smart and hilarious and touching and true. Someone nominate Jade Chang for a Pulitzer.
Taryn Pierson
Books about rich people make me feel conflicted, especially books like this one, in which the richies lose all their riches. How sorry am I supposed to feel for these people, exactly? What am I supposed to do with all the brand name dropping, when I can't pronounce Hermes? Are Coach bags still cool?

Maybe if I'd worried less about those questions and just focused on the characters, I might have had a better time with The Wangs vs. the World. Little sister Grace is freewheeling and charming, and b
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Obsidian
Apr 17, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Seriously. This book is awful. I read that this was supposed to be funny (I didn't laugh at all) and hey if you want to read about a self absorbed rich family who consist of Chinese people, I say go read Crazy Rich Asians instead. One of this books's genres on Goodreads is "Abandoned" so I should have looked into that before I spent money on this thing.

This book takes place in 2008, of course for us Americans, we know that is when the housing bubble in the US burst, and then we had a recession
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Emily
Jul 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Important Disclaimer: Once I spent an entire day at Great America with this author.

As I would expect based on that experience, this book is funny, insightful, and a real good time. I loved how sharply all of the characters were drawn - especially Saina and Grace - and how effortlessly the backstory was woven into the plot. As the Wangs travel across the country, you're slowly drawn into their life before and after the crash. The details of Saina's art shows and Grace's clothing labels, juxtapos
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Amanda
Dec 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
2.5. This had moments of brilliance but overall it fell flat for me.
Sharon
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
"Uproariously funny" this was not. Not even mildly funny, really.

This read like a less-interesting The Nest, with a similar message--when you lose it all, you discover what really matters. Characters were unlikable (minus the exuberant, optimistic patriarch Charles Wang; I had a soft spot for him). I appreciated Chang flipping a lot of immigrant stereotypes upside down, and all of the research she put into such different areas--the art scene, the financial collapse, stand-up comedy, and fashion-
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Lark Benobi
Nov 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016
I was enjoying getting to know the characters but I kept getting the feeling they were forcing themselves on me, like party crashers--a little too talkative, a little too zany, a little too obsessed with having a good time at my expense. Whatever. I pressed on. Then a point came when an unlikely and violent and tragic accident was handled with such a casual/sitcom-y lightness that my willingness to invest in the novel and its characters dropped like a stone. The novel never quite recovered for m ...more
Karen
Oct 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
This is a riches to rags story about the dysfunctional Wangs, a Chinese family who lose it all and decide to take a road trip across America.

This book is getting a lot of buzz and is portrayed as hilarious so I had high expectations. It is not necessarily a bad book and it is inventive, but it was not my kind of humor, I found the narrative too slow and I wasn’t interested in its shallow characters. I often found myself skimming.
Sarah
Sep 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So many evocative details, and great scenes that stayed with me long after I finished reading them-- like the moment in the lecture room at ASU, or the lovely but rare occasions when the reader hears from the Mercedes. Separately- in college I read Age of Innocence many times. Unexpectedly and to my delight, Barbra reminded me of May Archer.
Sarah
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc
I read this in about two days and cackled with delight almost the whole time. Though I loved it for universal reasons (well-developed characters, familial relationships, and humor), it was also an incredible relief to read an immigrant story not predicated on the degradation of immigrating. It also brought home how I’ve spent actual decades reading all the books without ever having experienced the magic of very specific cultural recognition until now. What a world we live in.

My favorite statemen
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Theresa Alan
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Charles Wong came from China to America and grew a fortune in the make-up business. Unfortunately, he makes a few stumbles with his business in 2008 when the economy built on false mortgages comes crashing down, and he loses everything—his house, the cars, all his factories.

He has three children from his first wife, who died eight weeks after the birth of their last child. The kids have never known deprivation, which is perhaps why all of them feel free to pursue the arts—and use their money to
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Sherwood Smith
Sep 30, 2016 added it
Shelves: fiction
The first line of the blurb had me: A hilarious debut about an immigrant Chinese family.

Unfortunately I didn’t find the book at all hilarious. But someone did, as this novel seems to be getting a huge publicity splash. And I can see why—it’s full of glitz, insider New York art scene talk (with a metric butt-ton of name dropping), and rich people doing rich people things. That alone ought to guarantee a movie deal.

The Wangs discover that Charlie, the paterfamilias, who came from Taiwan and built
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Coleen (The Book Ramblings)
The Wangs vs. the World is Jade Chang’s debut novel, released in early October with all the book circling social media. It was One of Entertainment Weekly’s Most Anticipated Titles of 2016, and Barnes & Noble’s Discover Pick of Fall 2016. It is about Charles Wang, an immigrant businessman who built a cosmetics company and made a fortune building that empire, however he loses it all (right down to his last cent) when the financial crisis hit the United States in 2008. Being the prideful, self ...more
Margaret Wappler
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This wildly entertaining novel -- and I mean entertaining on a movie level that rarely a book can match, where you're laughing, then struck in the gut, then swelling with admiration for the precise and unforgettable way Jade nails the art world, or a rich man's wounded arrogance, or a teen girl's vacillations between quasi-suicidal thoughts one minute and then her fashion blog the next --will not only be your steadfast companion for the time you're reading it, but you'll miss it when you're done ...more
Helen Marquis
May 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Loved, loved, loved this book! Meet the Wangs, who put the fun in dysfunctional in this rags-to-riches-and-back-again story. The father is a proud immigrant whose pride comes before his fall, as he build a cosmetics empire only to watch it crumble. His three children Saina (a former art world darling who has disappeared from public life after a disastrous controversial show), Andrew (a wannabe comedian who isn't very funny) and Grace (a style blogger trying to make a name for herself) are brough ...more
Dan
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable! A beautiful, engrossing family novel. Makes me wish I had siblings...

Disclaimer, though: I TWICE served as Tallymaster when the author hosted LitQuiz!
Aimal (Bookshelves & Paperbacks)
I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks so much to the publisher for granting me the opportunity to read an ARC of this.

Charles Wang moved to America from China with nothing. And with nothing but a brain made for success, and just a little bit of knowledge about manure, he built himself a multi-million dollar cosmetics empire. He has three children: Saina is a New York-based artist who’s juggling her love life. Andrew’s in university and is aspiring to be a st
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Alena
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This novel rushed at me like a gust of fresh air – funny, irreverent, timely and smart. I was hooked from the first few paragraphs.
“There was no arguing it. History has started fucking Charles Wang, and America had finished the job.”

The Wangs are an American success story gone horribly wrong. Charles, exiled from China via Taiwan, arrives in America, makes his millions and within 30 years loses it all. He narrates the next few days along with his three children and his second wife. Each of their
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Jade Chang's debut novel, The Wangs vs. the World, is being published on October 4, 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She is a journalist who has covered arts, culture, and cities and a recipient of the Sundance Fellowship for Arts Journalism, the AIGA/Winterhouse Award for Design Criticism, and the James D. Houston Memorial scholarship from the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.

She was recently
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“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.” 11 likes
“No one thinks to make the goddess a cup of tea; they just ply her with useless perfumed oils and impotent carved fetishes.” 4 likes
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