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 by David Wong Louie X
The Barbarians Are Coming by David Wong Louie
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

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

Book Club Report

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!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Your Duck Is My Duck
    Your Duck Is My Duck
    by Deborah Eisenberg
    In this collection of six short stories, Deborah Eisenberg presents characters confronting limits ...
  • Book Jacket: Unsheltered
    Unsheltered
    by Barbara Kingsolver
    Willa Knox's house is falling down. She recently inherited a Victorian residence in Vineland, ...
  • Book Jacket: Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree
    Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree
    by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
    Ya Ta, the main character in Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani's novel, Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree, ...
  • Book Jacket: The Boneless Mercies
    The Boneless Mercies
    by April Genevieve Tucholke
    The Mercies are assassins, part of a long tradition of killers who serve to end the suffering of the...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Winter Soldier
by Daniel Mason

A story of war and medicine, of finding love in the sweeping tides of history, and of the mistakes we make.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Kennedy Debutante
    by Kerri Maher

    "An engrossing tale of family, faith and love in the life of one remarkable woman." - Booklist
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Gone So Long

Andre Dubus III's First Novel in a Decade

A masterpiece of thrilling tension and heartrending empathy.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

G H E Rope A H Will H H

and be entered to win..

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.