Forgetting English has been chosen for several book clubs lately (thanks so much, readers!) … and I wanted to post a few discussion questions. So here they are:
1. In what ways do foreign cultures and languages affect who we are, how we act, how we perceive ourselves? When you travel, do you tend to feel more removed from yourself the farther you are from home – or does it make you feel closer to who you really are?
2. Communication – between sisters, lovers, friends – plays a role in several of these stories. To what extent does being in a foreign environment exacerbate or alleviate challenges with communication?
3. A couple of these characters arrive in foreign countries having fled unpleasant circumstances in their own lives. Other characters travel for work. How are their experiences and revelations different, given the reasons for their travels?
4. Loneliness is a theme in many of the stories in the book. In what ways do the characters try to preserve their isolation? In what ways do they try to forge new connections?
5. Relationships play a key role in the stories in Forgetting English. How does being away from home — outside our normal, everyday lives — influence our responses to people we’re close to, as well as those we meet along the way?
6. Choose the story that you responded to the most strongly. What do you imagine will happen to the characters after the story ends?
7. What is the role of metaphor in these stories? Are there any metaphors in particular that resonated with you?
8. Animals figure prominently in several of the stories. In what ways to they influence the stories and your perception of the human characters?
Anything else to add? Feel free to add your own comments / questions / random thoughts.