Gift_of_EmperorThe All Good Books club will discuss Therese Park’s novel A Gift of the Emperor this Thursday, July 21, 2016 at 7 PM. We’re meeting at the Community of Christ – Mission Road Congregation (7842 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS) in the Church Library.

The following are a few discussion questions that might kick start the evening.

  1. What specifically did you learn from the novel?
  2. Why do you think the Japanese soldiers, generally, showed no mercy toward the Comfort Women, captured prisoners and even their own fellow soldiers (specifically those of Chinese or Korean descent)?
  3. Discuss the philosophy offered by the Japanese officer, “In this world, there are only two kinds of people, the powerful and the powerless. The world is ruled by the powerful and the powerless must comply…..The powerful should guide the powerless and the wise should teach the foolish. It’s a simple rule. Does it make sense?”
  4. Ayako, one of the Comfort Women says to Keiko, “Friends and lovers are different. But your heart has space for both. A friend is someone you appreciate and trust for the rest of your life, but a lover is someone you want to die for. Believe me, you’ll understand when you have a lover.” Do you agree?
  5. In a contemplative moment, Keiko thinks, “Being poor and powerless was a crime in the real world, and I hated being a Korean for precisely that reason. For centuries, our ancestors did nothing but fight amongst themselves in political wrangling instead of worrying about the country’s economy, defense system, and its people’s intellectual growth.” Reflect on that comment.
  6. Auntie Myung offers the following advice to Keiko: “See, what did I tell you? Always watch your own thoughts in your head: they can be dangerous. You must protect yourself from all enemies, including yourself. Beating your head and blaming yourself for everything isn’t the way a decent woman treats herself. When a man cares for you and shows you a path that is inviting to you, go with him without hesitation.” Is that good advice in love as well as other life situations?
  7. At one point Keiko encounters American solders and she reflects, “Their dirty black boots were stepping on my shadow, my other self.” What did she mean? Why was she upset?
  8. Do you think the novel perpetuates or breaks down stereotypes? Explain.
  9. Are there passages in the book that you underlined or made you pause and think? Discuss those passages.
  10. Reflect on the changes in Keiko during the novel.
  11. Were you satisfied or comfortable or unhappy with the ending of the novel?
  12. Would you recommend the novel to a friend to read? If so, what comments or reasons would you offer for your recommendation?