Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan crosses a milestone today by charting 50 consecutive weeks on The Straits Times bestseller list for fiction. It is a record high for an adult fiction title by a Singapore-born or Singaporean author since the list's inception in 2000.
Kwan, who is behind the best-selling trilogy of Crazy Rich Asians and its sequels China Rich Girlfriend (2015) and Rich People Problems (2017), was born in Singapore, but is now an American citizen.
Crazy Rich Asians, which previously lasted 11 weeks on the list when it was first published in 2013, reappeared on it in July last year and has been climbing steadily since. It has since topped the list 21 times, as the release of a Hollywood film adaptation next month draws closer.
The record was previously held by New York-based Singaporean Cheryl Tan Lu-Lien's frothy debut novel Sarong Party Girls at 32 weeks from September 2016 to April last year.
Kwan, 44, also holds the rare honour of having all three of his books make the list in the same week 23 times. "Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that this would happen," he says in an e-mail from New York, where he is based. "When I wrote the book, I wasn't even sure it would ever get published, so I am enormously grateful to every one of my readers in Singapore.
"This book was always my Valentine to Singapore - it captured so much of my memories growing up there and of people and places I know and love, so it's incredibly gratifying to know that Singaporeans have embraced this book too."
While exact sales figures are not available, the book has sold well over a million copies worldwide.
The Straits Times weekly bestseller list is compiled from figures provided by four major bookstores - Books Kinokuniya, Times, WHSmith and Popular. It lists the top 10 titles in three categories - Fiction, Non-Fiction and Children's Books.
The list dates back to 2000, when data was first collated from six bookstores, the aforementioned four as well as Borders and MPH. Prior to that, the bestseller lists of individual bookstores were published.
While local titles often break into the non-fiction and children's categories, it is rare for a Singapore title to make it to the top 10 in the adult fiction list, let alone keep its place.
Other novels by locals that have charted in recent years include Ovidia Yu's mystery novel Aunty Lee's Chilled Revenge, which stayed on the list for 16 weeks in 2016, Balli Kaur Jaswal's Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows - 12 weeks last year - and Sharlene Teo's Ponti at four weeks this year.
Landmark bestsellers before 2000 include Philip Jeyaretnam's 1987 short story collection First Loves, which stayed on the Times bestseller list for more than a year, and Adrian Tan's The Teenage Textbook (1988) and its sequel The Teenage Workbook (1989), which reached No. 1 and No. 2 on the Times list simultaneously.
The volumes of Russell Lee's True Singapore Ghost Stories, a mainstay on local bestseller lists since they hit shelves in 1989, are classified under the children's category.