Excerpt from the novel
Kevin Kwan - Crazy Rich Asians
Nicholas Young slumped into the nearest seat in the hotel lobby, drained from the sixteen-
hour flight from Singapore, the train ride from Heathrow Airport, and trudging through the
rain-soaked streets. His cousin Astrid Leong shivered stoically next to him […].
Anyone else happening upon the scene might have noticed an unusually composed eight-
year-old boy and
an ethereal wisp of a girl sitting quietly in a corner, but all Reginald
Ormsby saw from his desk overlooking the lobby were two little Chinese children staining
the damask settee with their sodden coats. And it only got worse from there. Three
Chinese women stood nearby, frantically blotting themselves dry with tissues, while a
teenager slid wildly across the lobby, his sneakers leaving muddy tracks on the black-and-
white checkerboard marble.
Ormsby rushed downstairs from the mezzanine, knowing he could more efficiently
dispatch these foreigners than his front-desk clerks. "Good evening, I am the general
manager. Can I help you?" he said slowly, over-enunciating every word.
"Yes, good evening, we have a reservation," the woman replied in perfect English.
Ormsby peered at her in surprise. "What name is it under?"
"Eleanor Young and family."
Ormsby froze – he recognized the name, especially since the Young party had booked the
Lancaster Suite. But who could have imagined that "Eleanor Young" would turn out to be
Chinese, and how on earth did she end up here? […] The Dowager Marchioness of
Uckfield was staying through the weekend, and he could scarcely imagine what she would
make of these folk appearing at breakfast tomorrow. He made a swift decision. "I’m
terribly sorry, but I can’t seem to find a booking under that name."
"Are you sure?" Eleanor asked in surprise.
"Quite sure." Ormsby grinned tightly.
Felicity Leong joined her sister-in-law at the front desk. "Is there a problem?" she asked
impatiently, eager to get to the room to dry her hair.
"Alamak, they can't find our reservation," Eleanor sighed. […]
She turned back to the manager. "Sir, can you please check again? I reconfirmed our
reservation just two days ago. We're supposed to be in your largest suite."
"Yes, I know you booked the Lancaster Suite, but I can't find your name anywhere,"
"Excuse me, but if you know we booked the Lancaster Suite, why don't we have the
room?" Felicity asked, confused.
Bloody hell. Ormsby cursed at his own slip-up. "No, no, you misunderstood. What I meant
was that you might think you booked the Lancaster Suite, but I certainly can't find any
record of it." He turned away for a moment, pretending to rummage through some other
Felicity leaned over the polished oak counter and pulled the leather-bound reservations
book toward her, flipping through pages. "Look! It says right here 'Mrs. Eleanor Young -
Lancaster Suite for four nights.' Do
you not see this?"
"Madam! That is PRIVATE!" Ormsby snapped in fury, startling his two junior clerks, who
glanced uncomfortably at their manager.
Felicity peered at the balding, red-faced man, the situation suddenly becoming abundantly
clear. She hadn’t seen this particular brand of superior sneer since she was a child
growing up in the waning days of
colonial Singapore, and she thought this kind of overt
racism had ceased to exist. "Sir," she said politely but firmly, "this hotel came highly
recommended to us by Mrs. Mince, the wife of the Anglican Bishop of Singapore, and I
clearly saw our name in your registry book. I don’t know what sort of funny business is
going on, but we have traveled a very long way and our children are tired and cold. I insist
that you honor our reservation."
Ormsby was indignant. How dare this Chinese woman with the Thatcheresque perm and
preposterous "English" accent speak to him in such a manner? "I'm afraid we simply do
not have anything available," he declared.
"Are you telling me that there are no rooms left in this entire hotel?" Eleanor said
"Yes," he replied curtly.
"Where are we supposed to go at this hour?" Eleanor asked.
"Perhaps someplace in Chinatown?" Ormsby sniffed. These foreigners had wasted
enough of his time.
Felicity went back to where her younger sister Alexandra Cheng stood guarding the
luggage. "Finally! I can't wait to take a hot bath," Alexandra said eagerly.
"Actually, this odious man is refusing to give us our room!" Felicity said, making no
attempt to hide her fury.
"What? Why?" Alexandra asked, completely confused.
"I think it has something to do with us being Chinese," Felicity said […].Source: Kwan, Kevin. Crazy Rich Asians. New York: Anchor Books, 2014, 3-6.
 ethereal: delicate, of heavenly quality
 mezzanine: small floor between two stories in a building
 Dowager Marchioness of Uckfield: widowed member of a noble English family
 Alamak: exclamation in South-East Asia: Oh, no! / Oh, my God!
 waning: here: the last
 Thatcheresque: reminding one of Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister 1979-1990