Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

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Discussion Guide for Not for Everyday Use

1. Elizabeth says that as a novelist she relies on her imagination to arrive at essential truths about life.  What does she mean? 2. What opportunities for truth-telling does fiction provide?  In what ways can memoir hamper truth-telling? 3. Elizabeth speaks of her mother’s fear of disobeying the Catholic Church’s prohibition of birth control.  What […]

Discussion Guide for Drifting

1. How is the title Drifting appropriate for the collection? 2. In “The Least of These,” would you describe the name “Dieudonne” as important or sarcastic? 3. Why does Ti Papa resent being likened to his dead father? 4. In “Bereavement Pay,” the employee’s definition of “family” is vastly different from the employer’s. When you […]

Discussion Guide for Tehran at Twilight

1. The main character, Reza Malek, is faced with some tough choices  throughout the story. He must, for instance, choose between his loyalty to his adopted country, the United States, and the country of his birth, Iran. He is also eventually forced to choose between his oldest best friend, Sina, and his new best friend, […]

Reading Group Guide for The Love Book

1. Finding love is the central focus of the novel. How does each character view romantic love? What other types of love are explored in the novel? What do these other types of love reveal about each character? 2. What emotional or psychological obstacles or “blocks” do the characters face that impede their finding love? […]

Discussion Guide for The Descartes Highlands

1. Does the book make any overt statement about race? If so, how does the author convey it? 2. How does the novel deal with the issue of identity and belonging as far as Amerasians are concerned? How is this similar to or different from previously published works by other Asian American authors? 3. What […]

Reading Group Guide for Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night

1. The title of the novel, Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night, is a variation of the old Welsh proverb, “Sing before breakfast, cry before supper.” As Violet explains in chapter three, page 24, it means, “Don’t count your fishes until they’re caught.” How does this adage relate to the novel? Also, Daisy sings […]

Reading Group Guide for Unmentionables

1. Marian struggles with the tension between independence and isolation. What other characters risk loneliness in service of their independence? How does each accommodate or overcome it? 2. The title Unmentionables refers to Marian’s fight for practical undergarments for women. It also alludes to secrets and hidden agendas that are not mentioned or discussed in public. […]

Excerpt from Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock ‘n’ Roll Group

Drugs Because the only story that Americans are supposed to find fascinating is drug use, groups are often pressured to ingest copious amounts of substances that are arbitrarily illegal. This, or so the hope goes, will weave a legend. Meanwhile, so-called “drugs” are credited with much of human creativity over the past millennium—particularly during the […]