Reading guide for The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol

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The UnAmericans

Stories

by Molly Antopol

The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2014, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2014, 272 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  • Many of the characters in The UnAmericans travel or change locations during the course of their story. How does this seem to affect who they are?
  • What beliefs do these characters cling to, and how do they struggle with letting go?
  • The age-old themes of East versus West and Old World versus New World are big ones in The UnAmericans. How do these themes relate to the characters' ideas about religion, or about family, or about growing old?
  • How does the history of a given character's home country agree with or depart from his or her own history or destiny?
  • Think about the idea of home. What does the word mean to these characters?
  • Why might the author have titled her collection of stories The UnAmericans? Consider the settings, religious affiliations, political beliefs, and other similar factors when coming up with your answer.
  • Considering the rich interior lives of these characters, think about how our beliefs about others conflict with reality. How do we create other people in our minds?
  • What do these stories have to say about the place of religion—and especially Judaism—in the contemporary world?
  • Many of these characters are trying to get away from something. Talk about the theme of escape in these stories.
  • How do these characters lie to each other, and to themselves, in order to construct alternate "truths" that they find more comforting?
  • Communism plays a big part in this collection. How has the fall of the Iron Curtain affected the emotional lives of these characters?
  • What is the place of authority, whether parental or governmental, in the lives of these characters?
  • Art of various forms—painting, film, writing—plays a big part these stories. What do these stories have to say about the role of art in the immigrant experience?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of W.W. Norton & Company. 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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