The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana
World Editions, 9781642860696, 368pp.
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. How do you interpret the reference to William Shakespeare’s Hamlet on the very first page of the novel?
2. What role does gender play in determining the fates of Ivan and Ivana?
3. How much control do Ivan and Ivana have over their lives, and how much rests in the hands of other forces—their mother, their father, society, racism, etc?
4. What do you think of the character of the dibia? How does he influence the characters and plot of the novel? Do you have a sort of dibia in your own life?
5. What role does religion play in the forces of radicalization? What role does gender play?
6. How do you interpret the first-person plural narrator that appears throughout?
7. How does oral tradition inform the novel in terms of structure, plot, etc?
8. On page 161, the narrator admits, “Once again we have very little reliable information as to what happened next.” From where do you think the narrator has gotten this story? How many iterations of the story must there be, and what version of it do you think this is?
9. How does the presence of an unreliable narrator change the way you absorb the story?
10. What is the role of geography in the novel? How does it affect the fates of the twins? In what ways is it its own character?