Reading guide for Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away by Christie Watson

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Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away

By Christie Watson

Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away
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  • Paperback: May 2011,
    448 pages.

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Discussion Questions

  1. Ezikiel and Blessing share a special sibling bond. How did it change when they moved from Lagos to Warri? Do you think there was anything that Blessing could have done to save Ezikiel?


  2. Blessing tells her story in her own distinct voice. How would you characterize her style as a narrator? Discuss Blessing's development from an unsure, shy girl to a confident young woman. How does each character in the novel encourage - or stifle - Blessing's maturation?


  3. Watson originally tried writing Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away from the perspective of Dan, the white oil worker. How would Dan's perspective have changed the book? What insights might his narration have brought to the novel? What limitations might Watson have faced?


  4. From the very first line of the novel, "Father was a loud man," it's clear that her father is of crucial importance to Blessing. How does her opinion of him change throughout the story? How does her relationship with him affect her relationships with the other men in her life?


  5. Discuss the power of the women in Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away (Grandma's rally) versus the power of men in the novel (Alhaji, the Sibeye Boys). How does the expression of power differ between the genders?


  6. It's estimated that three million girls are at risk of female genital mutilation in Africa. Discuss Grandma's choice to perform the practice. How does it inform Blessing's own career as a midwife? How do Grandma and Blessing determine where to draw the line between ethical responsibility and cultural tradition?


  7. Legend and tradition play significant roles in Blessing's family - from Grandma's stories to Alhaji's disbelief in Ezikiel's medical condition. How are religion, education, and tradition balanced in the novel? Do they coexist? When and why do they clash?


  8. Though foreign companies and Nigeria's own government gain enormous wealth from the oil industry, the majority of people residing in the oil producing regions of the country continue to live in extreme poverty. How does the presence of the oil industry impact the lives of the characters in the novel? Does Watson offer any hints as to what could be done to better the situation?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Other Press. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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