A number of book clubs in Chicago, Ann Arbor, and other areas of Michigan have chosen A Beautiful Land for discussion in the coming months. I hope members will find these conversations interesting. As an aid to thinking about the book, I drafted a number of questions that might guide discussion.
Here are some questions to choose among for a discussion of A Beautiful Land. If you have other questions to suggest, please put them in the comments.
What do we learn from the children’s play that opens the book?
Are there any complexities in the character of the father? the mother?
Why does Raissa refuse to leave her homeland with her family?
What do we learn about the reasons for the hostility the Abukuru feel for the Nshya, and vice-versa? How can we understand the extreme brutality of the attacks on the Nshya?
Why does Raissa take the child, Olite (aka Dogood)?
What do you think of the odd name, Dogood?
Why does Raissa treat Jacqueline as she does, in the forest?
Can you comment on Dogood’s relationship over time with the dog, Gahiji?
What do we learn from Dogood’s relationship to Beno?
Why did the author include the attack on Ritha in the story?
How does Hanni feel about the reunion with her sister?
How do we understand Ritha’s relationship with Dogood?
How do chairs figure in the story?
What are the sources of distress in Jean de dieu’s life?
Why does Dogood leave Lizza and his family and return to the forest?
What is Miya’s role in the story?
What do Jean de dieu’s and Raissa’s relationships with the dog, Izuba, convey?
Do you have thoughts about the book’s ending?
What are the overall strengths and weaknesses of the book?