In this section, I provide suggested discussion questions for book clubs.
For leaders: I am always happy to join your discussion, if that will enhance your book club’s exchange. If you would like to schedule an appearance at your meeting, please reach out to me on the Contact page.
The Jade Dragon, discussion questions for book clubs:
- The Jade Dragon is set in a particular place and time—how does the setting in Shanghai affect the story? How does the year affect it? How important is the setting? Does the novel project a strong sense of place and time?
- Seeking justice is a recurring theme in the book—in what ways do the main characters seek justice in this story? How is that different for each?
- Each of the main characters brings baggage from their past into their present circumstances. How does Doug deal with his own personal baggage? How do other characters exhibit theirs?
- For much of the book, Doug is pulled by conflicting feelings about Lucy, Wong Mei-ling, and Ming Lin-wen. In what ways is he changed by these women?
- What flaws did Doug have to overcome? What did he learn?
- In addition to the identity of the murderer, what other mysteries were solved in this story?
- Who was most helpful to Doug in solving the main mystery of who killed Tim? Who was the most hinderance? Why?
- How does Doug’s profession help him in gathering clues? How does it impede him?
- In what ways do the setting and the characters reflect a rapidly-changing world? How do the tensions of rapid change affect the characters? What changes were most significant (technology, social mores, etc.)?
- Dreams have been seen as powerful symbols for millennia—what symbolism did Doug’s dreams give him? What significance did they have? How did these symbols help advance Doug’s search?
Additional questions for book club leaders:
- What character(s) did you like the most? Identify with the most?
- Were there any characters that you both liked and disliked? For what reasons?
- What feelings did this book evoke for you?
- What do you think of the book’s title? What does The Jade Dragon convey about the story?
- How many suspicious characters did you encounter? What hints led you down the wrong path of suspicion?
- How does Doug’s private life affect him? How does it affect this story?
- The story is told almost exclusively from Doug’s point-of-view—how does this affect the experience of reading this story? How did this affect the overall tone of the novel?
- What ideas do you think the author was trying to get across in this story?
- Choose and discuss a few sentences that reveal the author’s individual style.
- Some things were left ambiguous in this story—what seems ambiguous to you? What do you think the author was trying to convey with this ambiguity?
- How well do you think the author built the world of this story?
- This is historical fiction, set outside of the United States—what new things did you learn?