Reading guide for The Tapestries by Kien Nguyen

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

The Tapestries

by Kien Nguyen

The Tapestries
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2002, 320 pages
    Oct 2003, 336 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. Discuss the tension between duty and personal choice in The Tapestries. To what extent did the characters have control over the way they lived their lives? Discuss the role of fate in the lives of the novel's principal characters.

  2. Did you learn something new about Vietnam and its history from reading The Tapestries? Did you sense a conflict between the forces of history and the forces of modernism? Could you foresee a source of future conflicts in Vietnamese society after reading this novel?

  3. Discuss the romantic relationships in the novel - Ven and Big Con, Dan and Tai May, Dan's mother and her gardener. What was the role of loyalty in these relationships? Can you identify modern as well as traditional elements in each relationship?

  4. Who was your favorite character in The Tapestries, and why? Which characters were the most dynamic? the most passive? the most complex?

  5. How did the author's use of metaphors and other figures of speech influence your experience of the story? How did the author's depiction of weather and landscape contribute to the novel's mood and tone?

  6. What is the significance of Ven's disfigurement at the hands of Magistrate Toan? Do you think it reflects the position of women in Vietnamese society in the era portrayed in the novel? Do you think that the position of Vietnamese women has changed since that time?

  7. Were you surprised by the details of food and daily life that are presented in the novel? In what way were these details important to the story? Discuss the differences in the lives of the wealthy and the poor.

  8. Did you perceive certain characters to be representative of the historic culture of Vietnam? Did others appear more modern? Sometimes the characters in The Tapestries make choices based on traditional values that could be hard for a Western reader to comprehend. Identify some of the critical choices that altered characters' lives. Did the author succeed in making these choices understandable to you?

  9. Who was the bigger villain - Magistrate Toan or Lady Yen? Who did more harm to Dan and the other characters in the story? Was Dan truly obligated to kill Magistrate Toan because of the family legacy?

  10. Kien Nguyen has stated that The Tapestries was inspired by the story of his grandfather's life. Which parts of the novel do you think were factual, and which parts do you think were fictional? Are these distinctions important to you?

Copyright Back Bay Books

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Back Bay 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: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
  • 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 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

    North of Crazy
    by Neltje

    The remarkable life of a woman who carves her own singular path.

    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

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.