Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. In the first paragraph, why does Kailash as a new immigrant say he “felt insufficiently authentic”? What does he mean when he says he “needed a suitable narrative to present”?
2. In part I, why does Kailash think that immigrants feel “at home in guilt”? What makes them feel guilty?
3. Throughout the novel, Kailash’s thoughts are written like a testimony in court. Why does Kailash feel like he must defend himself?
4. Why did Jennifer feel that she had to distance herself completely from Kailash at the end of part I? Do you think her actions were justified?
5. What is the importance of Ehsaan’s stories to Kailash and the other graduate students?
6. Do you think Ehsaan’s plan to kidnap Kissinger at the start of part III was hypothetical or serious? Does the author’s note about Eqbal Ahmad change your opinion? How so?
7. How does Kailash’s relationships with Jennifer, Nina, and Cai differ? What does he learn from each relationship?
8. How do the sex gurus Dr. Ruth, Dr. Watsa, and Rajneesh/Osho influence Kailash’s understanding of sex?
9. Why do you think Peter told Kailash about Maya’s past with her uncle? Should he have?
10. In part IV, was Nina justified in telling Kailash she was going to Maine when she really was with her ex-boyfriend’s dying mother? Would you be honest or lie? How would you feel if you were Kailash?
11. In part V, what is the significance to Kailash of the place Immigrant, Montana, and Wolf Number Three who had been shot there?
12. In parts I and V, Kailash compares monkeys and Indian immigrants. Compare and contrast their journeys to America.
13. At the end of the novel, Kailash says that he “wanted very badly to go back to what I had ignored in my thesis. I wanted to write about love. Not just the story of one love, its beginning or its end, but the story of love and how it is haunted by loss.” How is this theme reflected throughout the novel?
14. What is the significance of the various photographs throughout the book?
15. Why does the author frame Kailash’s story with him looking back on his life? For assistance, read the epilogue.