Golden State (Kiesling) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
1. What makes Engin and Daphne a good match? What attracted them to each other, and to each other’s worlds? How does their love evolve over the course of The Golden State?

2. Daphne describes pumping milk at work, in a basement closet that houses computer servers. What does this image say about modern American motherhood?

3. As Daphne counts the dollars in her bank account and the minutes of her commute, what is she really measuring? When she returns to her grandparents’ house, how is she affected by the new daily rhythm of sleeping and feeding and playing?

4. How would you have reacted in Daphne’s situation after Engin was illegally pressured to relinquish his green card? If you could rewrite America’s immigration laws, what would you decree?

5. What viewpoints do Daphne and Cindy share? What lies at the heart of Cindy’s paranoia? Why is it difficult for her and the State of Jefferson followers to stay rooted in reality?

6. As Alice’s friendship with Daphne unfolds, what forms of caretaking do they provide to each other? If you had the chance to reconnect with a chapter from your past, what special place would you want to return to?

7. The author delivers a highly realistic depiction of workplace bureaucracy. How do Daphne’s co-workers compare to yours? How long could you be gone from the office before anyone would know you were missing?

8. Daphne recalls the tidy world that her grandparents inhabited, down to her grandmother’s immaculate golfing outfit, and the thriving small-town community where they were well-known. What caused the decline of Paiute County?

9. None of the staff at the Institute for the Study of Islamic Societies and Civilizations is a Muslim. What commentary does the novel offer on the limitations of institutions—and the power of individuals—to heal society’s fractures?

10. As Daphne comes to terms with the accident that took the life of a student (Ellery Simpson) and injured another (Maryam Khoury), what does she discover about the risks and rewards of her own cross-cultural journeys?

11. What does the novel tell us about the ability of language to connect us, even when language appears to be a barrier?
(Questions issued by the publishers.)

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