(Many thanks to Monterey County Free Libraries, of California, for developing and sharing the following questions as part of their Book Club to Go program.)
1. What makes this book distinctive?
2. Did you notice any symbolism or underlying themes?
3. How is the setting and period important to the theme?
4. Recollect your time in High School and compare your school with the one portrayed in the book.
5. Did you have any memorable teachers similar to any teacher portrayed in the book?
6. How did you perceive the countries from behind the “iron curtain”? Did you learn something new about life in Eastern Europe in the sixties?
7. How did the ending of the book change your perception of the whole story?
8. Did any literary allusions encourage you to read more books, like “Victory” by Joseph Conrad or plays by Samuel Beckett?
9. Which of the characters from the book would you like to meet in person? What would you like to talk about with her/him?
10. In your opinion, why was Madame so desperate to leave Poland?
11. What do you think really happened to Madame and what was her life like after she left Poland?
12. In your opinion, why didn’t the protagonist escape from Poland? Do you think he finally did, when he finished the book?
13. What can be the meaning of the fact that we don’t know characters’ names?
14. Would this book make a good movie? Why or why not?
(Questions issued by Monterey County Free Libraries of California. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)
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