Reading guide for The Barbarians Are Coming by David Wong Louie

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

The Barbarians Are Coming

by David Wong Louie

The Barbarians Are Coming
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2000, 384 pages
    Mar 2001, 384 pages

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. The names of characters have a special significance in The Barbarians Are Coming especially in relation to nationality. Genius and Zsa Zsa are given their American names by Lucy with a sense of ridicule and these names become permanent. Are Genius and Zsa Zsa aware of the mockery implied by these names? If so, why do they choose to accept them as opposed to selecting their own?
  2. Food, eating and cooking are intimately tied to the personalities of the members of the Lung family. What do you learn about Sterling, Genius and Zsa Zsa from their relationships with food?
  3. What qualities does Yuk possess that endear her to Genius and Zsa Zsa and spur their desire to have Sterling marry her? Are these qualities absent in Sterling and, if so, is their absence a result of a conscious effort by Sterling to abandon them? Is there a sense of resentment on Sterling’s part caused by the relationship that Yuk has with Sterling’s parents?
  4. Sterling’s communication with other characters is often marred by difficulties. He and Bliss interact better in writing than in person, there is constant conflict with his parents regarding speaking English, he and Yuk experience confusion concerning the phrase "move the bed". What elements of Sterling’s character contribute to these difficulties?
  5. In addition to being the patriarch of his own family, Morton Sass takes on the role of father figure to Sterling after his marriage to Bliss. However Morton also serves as Sterling’s boss for "The Peeking Duck." How does each relationship influence the other? Does either of these relationships emerge as the dominant one?
  6. Sterling feels a stronger connection to Ira than he does to Moses even though there is a lack of physical resemblance between the father and his younger son. What factors bind Sterling and Ira together? Is the fact that Ira appears "American" a component of Sterling’s affection toward him?
  7. Both Sterling and Genius exhibit tendencies toward unfaithfulness in terms of their significant relationships with women. Is this a sign of their overall attitude toward the gender or an indication of a lack of stability in their lives? To what extent do you imagine the lives of these two men would have be different if they had been married to other women (Genius to Lucy, Sterling to Yuk)?
  8. In Part III of the novel the author changes the concentration of the narrative, focusing on Genius’ past as opposed to the present. What effect is achieved by doing so? Does the reader gain a greater sympathy for the character from knowing his personal

For more information about other Penguin Readers Guides, please call the Penguin Marketing Department at (800) 778-6425 or write at Penguin Books, Marketing Department CC, Readers' Guides, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3657.

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Berkley 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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
  • Book Jacket
    by Tom Jackson
    Growing up in Mumbai in the '70s, I still remember herbs kept fresh in small glasses of water, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    News of the World
    by Paulette Jiles

    Exquisitely rendered and morally complex--a brilliant work of historical fiction.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Les Parisiennes
    by Anne Sebba

    How the women of Paris lived, loved, and died under Nazi occupation.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

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.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.