Reading guide for On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

On Such a Full Sea

by Chang-rae Lee

On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee X
On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2014, 368 pages
    Dec 2014, 432 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. The novel is narrated by a collective voice of B-Mor residents, telling the story of Fan from a distance of some years. Why do you think the author chose to narrate the book this way? What does the collective narration add to the book? How might it read differently if it had been told as a much closer third-person narration? What if it had been told by Fan herself?
  2. How does the author implicitly explain this narrator's ability to describe events that happened beyond the physical limits of B-Mor?
  3. Legend and storytelling are major themes in the story itself-from the legend of Fan as it is narrated by the collective B-Mor residents to (within that larger story) the story Quig tells Fan about his past, the tale that Fan has heard about the brother she never really knew, and the stories represented on the murals of the kept girls in the charter village. Do these stories have anything in common with one another, either in their telling or their effect on their audience? What about the stories' effect on the tellers themselves? What do you think the author is saying about the nature of storytelling?
  4. Fan's journey is a quest narrative, a storytelling form that traditionally tells about a hero's transformation. Fan, though, doesn't fundamentally change from the start of the novel to the end. Why do you think this is true? What has changed over the course of the novel?
  5. By the time the events of the novel begin, Reg has already disappeared. Why do you think the author has chosen not to introduce us to Reg as an active character during the novel?
  6. There is a period of growing discontent within B-Mor. What do you think accounts for this situation? How is it resolved? Do you think Fan would have left B-Mor if Reg had not disappeared? Do you think any of the discontent within B-Mor would have occurred if Fan had not gone after Reg?
  7. Think about race and how it is used in the book. In some ways this is a postracial America, but in other important ways, old prejudices linger. In addition, new divisions seem to have sprung up in place of racial discord. What are some of these divisions and how do they affect the characters and their lives? What do you think the author was trying to accomplish in this way?
  8. What do you think are the most significant quality-of-life differences between the settlements and the charter villages? Where are people the happiest, and why? What are the appeals of life in the Open Counties? Why haven't more B-Mor residents like Fan ever left their settlement? Where do you think that you would be the happiest?
  9. Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Riverhead Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Urban Aquaculture

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
  • Book Jacket: Eat the Apple
    Eat the Apple
    by Matt Young
    Truth is stranger than fiction. Matt Young's memoir tackles the space in between truth and ...
  • Book Jacket: Educated
    by Tara Westover
    Tara Westover had the kind of upbringing most of us can only imagine. She was the youngest of seven ...
  • Book Jacket: The Girls in the Picture
    The Girls in the Picture
    by Melanie Benjamin
    Melanie Benjamin's fine historical novel about the relationship between two women in the early ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Sometimes I Lie
    by Alice Feeney

    This brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something a lie if you believe it's the truth?
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano

    A charming, bighearted novel starring Auntie Poldi, Sicily's newest amateur sleuth.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Balcony

The Balcony
by Jane Delury

A century-spanning novel-in-stories of a French village brimming with compassion, natural beauty, and unmistakable humanity.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Y L D W D, Y'll G U W Fleas

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.