READERS GUIDE

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. Radojcic titles her book Homecoming, and yet Halid never actually returns to his childhood home. In chapter one, he gets off the bus and thinks, “home, the last place in the world he wanted to see.” Why does Halid resist going home? How has he changed? Besides war, what other life events–traumatic or otherwise– can become points of no return? What would life look like without any such events?

2. This novel has been praised for its searing effect upon readers. A critic remarked that Homecoming offered “something rarely seen in contemporary fiction: a tragedy.” Do you find this assessment to be true? Discuss the possible reasons for this modern need for happy endings.

3. Radojcic includes characters from every religious and ethnic group (Muslims, Orthodox Christians, Catholics, and Jews) of the area in which Homecoming is set–and every one of them commits some sort of evil act, even if only a small one. Are moral crises inevitable in circumstances of war? Is it possible to preserve normal values under abnormal circumstances?

4. When Halid first sees Mira, his first and only love, he is touched and jealous over her tenderness towards her child. Is there any love left between them? What happens to romantic attachments in an environment in which basic human survival is threatened?

5. At the beginning of the book, when Halid steps off the bus, the bus driver yells, “good luck to you hero!” Discuss Halid as a heroic figure. He fought for the winning side and was wounded. Since his people were attacked he could be seen as a hero. What qualities does he possess that could define him as one? What makes a soldier a hero? Could Halid also be described as an antihero? Does Radojcic cast judgment on him one way or the other?

6. Halid shot Aida by accident. He had shot many people before and has seen many people die around him, and yet when he thinks of Aida’s death he feels like a murderer. Why is Aida’s death different?

7. Radojcic often uses nature and animals as metaphors for Halid’s emotional life. Discuss your reaction to the hunt scene where a burrowing owl was killed. Why does Radojcic call it “an ignominy?” Is there an honorable way to kill animals? What about the horse tied to a stake, earlier in the novel? How do these animals foreshadow Halid’s fate? The last part of the novel, after Halid loses all his money, occurs in the dark. Why do you think Radojcic sets it that way? How would it be different in daylight?

8. Halid mother’s touch “burns as bad as the bullet did.” Why does his mother’s affection hurt? How can affection from those who love us become unbearable? What could Halid have done in order to learn to accept care from others again?

9. Even after it is clear that his old friends have decided to kill him, Halid stays. Why doesn’t he leave? Why doesn’t he fight harder?

10. In the last few days of Halid’s life, there seems to be no order. Things go from bad to worse. Were you surprised by the ending, or did you see it coming? Was Halid’s path toward self-destruction a steady one?

11. One reviewer compared Homecoming to Gabriel García Márquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold, a novel that logs, step by step, a man’s murder. Santiago Nasar is stabbed by his friends: the entire town witnesses it. How do these novels compare? Do you think Radojcic wrote Homecoming with a similar purpose?

12. Radojcic is also a screenwriter. Is her experience as a writer of screenplays evident in the language of the novel? How would you envision this novel on a screen?

 
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