The setup for The Wangs vs. the World is so rich in conflict and pathos, it's hard to realize at first that it's a comedy ... Chang not only effortlessly juggles this crew of point-of-view characters, she imbues each of them with distinct voice of their own ... Chang tackles the issue of race from a fresh, playful, yet cutting perspective. Her book is unrelentingly fun, but it's also raw and profane — a story of fierce pride, fierce anger, and even fiercer love.
With mischievous, Dickensian glee, Chang's prose power-drives the appealingly dysfunctional family, now a disgrace to the wet dream of capitalism, through their postfall paces ... Chang's confident, broad-stroke, and go-for-broke style makes her fresh twist on the American immigrant saga one of 2016's must-reads ... You will laugh your ass off while learning a thing or two about buying into, and then having to bail on, the American dream. But mostly, you'll get to savor, thanks to a wildly innovative plot twist, the secret heart of this diabolical dramedy: how it's love, not money, that really makes the world, and all the people in it, go round.
Jade Chang is unendingly clever in her generous debut novel about the comedy of racial identity ... The teasing-but-loving dynamic of all three kids on the phone together illustrates Chang’s aptitude for writing dialogue and characters; as in the stand-up scene, she is at her finest when playing with the different expectations of an Asian audience and a white one ... It’s just too bad the end of the novel is such a mess. Unsatisfying resolutions for all of the Wang children feel forced when they are sent to the other end of the earth ... [a] compassionate and bright-eyed novel.
Jade Chang’s firecracker of a debut knowingly and refreshingly breaks every unwritten rule of the Asian-American family saga, making for a blistering, high-energy read that’s worthy of its pre-publication hype ... Like the Wang’s car, the novel is stuffed to capacity and prone to random detours, yet its contents always yield interesting surprises. Chang is a true maximalist, shifting perspectives from chapter to chapter, skipping around the country and the globe, and skewering several different subcultures ... The pure quantity of incident and subplot that Chang pelts at you can be disorienting, and a number of her authorial risks don’t pay off but like a good Wang, Chang’s debut swings for the fences, and even when it’s a little too much, it dazzles you with its uniquely American charm and confidence.
There’s plenty of humor at Charles’s expense throughout this very funny novel, but his over-the-top sense of entitlement and willfully blind optimism also transcend mockery. One never doubts that, for all his delusions of grandeur, his heart is in the right place ... Chang, as high-spirited as her protagonist, goes for broke with a comic ending that showcases the reconciliation of a father and his children, of dreams and reality, of Old World and New.
...[a] richly entertaining debut ... Charles is a wonderfully drawn character, whose success and wealth in America have allowed him to suppress the privations of his childhood ... Chang’s tone is gently ironic toward Charles’s financial collapse, as she enjoys chronicling the absurd excesses of the privileged ... In spite of the losses suffered by Charles and his children, Chang’s smart and engaging novel remains defiantly cheerful.
...not your parents’ immigration novel ... Chang’s lively portrayal of this sibling trio — spoiled, funny and loyal — is one of the novel’s most appealing aspects. If the middle section of the book drags a bit, this sharply comic novel is still more than worth it. When the Wangs take on the world, we all benefit.
And so begins Jade Chang’s take on the classic American road trip in The Wangs vs. the World, a riches-to-rags to (immaterial) riches tale that is fresh, funny, pacey and bright ... Chang brings out each character of the Wang crew with humor and skill, creating a cast of likeable characters that the reader can cheer for. Each family member is given equal billing in the narration and the resulting effect is a novel that moves at a spirited pace with a sense of adventure and humor on a situation that is less than funny ... Rather the Wang family’s Chinese heritage informs the story and enriches the characters, but she is never precious about it ... Wangs vs. the World joins an increasing number of novels about the financial crisis. Chang’s take works and her bold style pairs nicely with her heartwarming tale.
Chang packs her pages nearly as tightly as the Mercedes, piling on wry observations of everything from Asian immigrant culture and faded Southern gentry to fashion-blog etiquette and the boho bourgeoisie’s obsession with authenticity. If it all feels a little overstuffed, her breezy tangents and keen character sketches are also half the fun, and each Wang comes alive in their own memorable, messily human ways ... [Wang's] brash, bighearted debut smartly recasts what the definition of a quintessentially American story can be in 2016.
...a big, unironic valentine to the American dream ... If that feels like a lot of plot strands and characters, it is, but in Chang's deft hands, the story lines never become overwhelming ... an optimistic and witty celebration of its immigrant patriarch, himself a master of reinvention.