Sourdough (Sloan) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, please use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for Sourdough … then take off on your own:

1. Talk about Lois, especially as the book opens. How does she feel about her job, and how has the job affected her outlook on life? What might her experience, as presented in the novel, suggest about contemporary jobs in Silicon Valley?

2. What does Lois mean when she says, "Here's a thing I believe about people my age: We are the children of Hogwarts, and more than anything, we just want to be sorted." Why does that belief or idea inspire her to leave Michigan for San Francisco?

3. Do you find the robotic blue arm just a little creepy ... or funny? Is it the wave of the future? While you're at it, can you understand, even define, proprioception? It is truly a marvel of human ability, isn't it?

4. In what ways does the sour dough starter function as a symbol in the novel? Compare, for instance, the sourdough to both the blue arm and Tetra Pak nutritional gel. Think of the meaning of the word "starter" itself.

5. Follow-up to Question 1: Once Lois has taken up kneading dough and building a brick oven, consider her statement about exhaustion : "When I fell into my bed, I was truly tired; not merely the brain-spent Well, I guess I’ll give up now tiredness of a day at the robot factory, but something deeper, actually muscular." How else does her life change? Better yet, how does she change?

6. What do you think of the innovative Marrow Fair Lois is invited to join — funny, frightening, off-putting, even slightly repulsive? All or none of the above?

7. What is Agrippa's empire of microbes — "This is their world, not ours, and their stories are greater."

8. Robin Sloan seems to be taking on both the farm-to-table movement and giant agribusiness. What is his criticism, and does he offer up a solution for feeding the world's growing population?

9. Why does Alice turn down the job offered to her by the doyenne of the California food world?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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