Reading guide for Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe

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

Back to Blood

by Tom Wolfe

Back to Blood
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2012, 608 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2013, 736 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. The title of Back to Blood's prologue, "We een MeeAH mee Now" is a Latina character's retort to a "gringa's" request that she speak English, because "YOU'RE IN AMERICA NOW!" How has your town or city changed due to its immigrant population? To what extent have the elements in its melting pot melted?
  2. Tom Wolfe made a dozen extended trips to Miami over two years while researching Back to Blood. He has said that writers should "leave the desk" in order to gather material for their books, and he admires nineteenth century naturalistic novelists like Balzac and Zola for having done so. What are some of this novel's memorable details that could have been learned and conveyed only by Wolfe's direct observation? Would you know how the neighborhood of Hialeah looks or what really goes on at the Biscayne Bay Columbus Day Regatta if he hadn't been there and told us?
  3. One reviewer noted that Back to Blood is both "a breezy, funny read...and an examination of what it means to be a man." In what ways did you sympathize with Nestor Camacho as he struggles with his various identities as a cop, a Cuban American, and a young man on his own? Did you expect the happy endings for both his career and his love life?
  4. Ghislaine Lantier's French Haitian American father is horrified by the prospect of his daughter's dating "a Cuban cop!" Discuss the ways in which Professor Lantier manifests both the meaning of the novel's title and the more general theme of people's strong drive to fit in and rise.
  5. In an interview, Tom Wolfe has said, "People may complain about my exclamation points, but I honestly think that's the way people think. They don't think in essays." Does this strike you as true?
  6. How do your thoughts about "deskilled," "hands free" art jibe with the narrator's? Were you aware of how much money was at stake in the current art world before reading Wolfe's rendition of Art Basel Miami? Did you know about the business of forgery in the art world?
  7. Novelist Tibor Fischer, in a review of Back to Blood, wrote that "for bringing the world, or at least a world, to the page, Wolfe is the boss." And the books editor of The Miami Herald wrote that "flamboyance is Miami's native tongue...There is nothing in this novel that couldn't happen." Do these comments about the veracity of Back to Blood make you want to visit Miami or run the other way? Do you consider place or milieu to be important to your enjoyment of a novel?
  8. Magdalena Otero takes many chances with her well being in her constant striving to assimilate and move up in Miami's pecking order. Which of the minor characters also exhibit her preoccupation with status? Can you think of any who don't? Discuss social ambition as a theme of Back to Blood.
  9. Tom Wolfe has said that one of the writers he most admires is John Steinbeck. Although the work of these two writers differs stylistically, both attest to Wolfe's belief that "no single organism could be understood without observing and comprehending the entire colony." What is your response to that idea? How strongly do you think the individual is shaped by his society?

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!

Beyond the Book:
  Tom Wolfe

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: All We Have Left
    All We Have Left
    by Wendy Mills
    September 11, 2001 is a date that few Americans will ever forget. It was on this day that our ...
  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

Great literature cannot grow from a neglected or impoverished soil...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & 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.