Book Clubbin’: 10 Discussion Questions for ‘Klara and the Sun’ by Kazuo Ishiguro

It’s time for our Book Clubbin’ blog feature! Lockdowns and social distancing don’t mean you can’t start up a book club with your pals. Just book an hour (or more if the discussion gets heated) to meet every month through video chat!

This month, we’re diving into Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel, Klara and the Sun, narrated by Sura Siu. At once tender and thrilling, Klara and the Sun is a magnificent entry into Ishiguro’s body of work.

Ishiguro’s eighth novel, the first after he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017, introduces a uniquely unforgettable narrator in Klara, an Artificial Friend. From her vantage in the store, she carefully watches the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change forever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans. Those familiar with Ishiguro’s work will see tendrils of familiarity in his discussions of humanity and servitude that he first explored in Never Let Me Go.

No matter if you’re a first-time reader or an Ishiguro devotee, this month’s pick will surely spark complex discussions about the nature of love, sentience, and the human condition. Beware— SPOILERS ahead.

—————CONTAINS SPOILERS!————

1) In Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro imagines not a world where AI rebellion is inevitable, as so many science fiction novels and movies have warned, but rather that it is not and may never be. What kind of threat do you think he is highlighting, instead, with the placid servitude and expendability of Klara and other AFs (Artificial Friends)?

2) Ishiguro keeps the narrative tightly constrained to Klara’s point of view. What do her naiveté and unique observations add to the story?

3) Discuss how the theme of loneliness comes up in the story and some of the ways AFs both combat and exacerbate loneliness.

4) What are your thoughts on the society Ishiguro created in which “lifted” children are afforded better opportunities and, in turn, a vastly different lifestyle than those who aren’t “lifted?” How does this compare with the world we currently live in?

5) During Josie’s interaction meeting when the boys want to throw Klara around to test her coordination, one of the girls says it’s “evil” and “nasty” to handle an AF that way. What did you make of the children’s different sentiments toward AFs? What about Klara’s response, or, rather, lack thereof?

6) What did you make of Klara’s visit to Morgan’s Falls with the Mother? Did it change your opinion of either of them?

7) If things had gone differently and Josie’s parents carried through with their plan, do you think either of them could ever have accepted Klara as Josie’s replacement?

8) If it came to it, is it something you would ever consider doing?

9) Why, in the end, do you think Ishiguro chose for Josie to recover from her illness?

10) What do you think Ishiguro is saying about the uniqueness of humans? What about robots? Does he offer any definitive conclusions?


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Book Clubbin’: 10 Discussion Questions for ‘In Five Years’ by Rebecca Serle

Welcome to our monthly blog feature, Book Clubbin’!

With social distancing in place, it’s more important than ever to stay connected. One excellent way to drum up some excitement amongst you and your friends is to start or join a book club! If you can’t find the extra time at home to sit down and enjoy a book, audiobooks are a great way to squeeze in some literary entertainment without taking much time out of your day. You can listen while you do chores, cook, or even while you work. Before you know it, you’ll have knocked out those pages in no time!

Our pick for April is In Five Years by Rebecca Serle, narrated by Megan Hilty. The novel has already proven to be quite a popular book club choice, with Good Morning America, FabFitFun, and Marie Claire all featuring it for discussion.

In Five Years springs from the popular conversation starter, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” It’s likely a question we’ve all been asked and one that most can answer with at least some clarity. Dannie Kohan is someone who has her life planned to the letter. So, when a future employer asks her in an interview where she sees herself in five years, she has a pitch-perfect answer prepared. That night, after nailing the interview and getting engaged to her live-in boyfriend, she falls asleep only to wake up five years in the future in an unfamiliar apartment beside another man, with a different ring on her finger. When, after an hour, she wakes up once again in her own home in the present, Dannie finds she cannot shake the vision of her future that is completely off-kilter from the one she had planned.

It’s no surprise that In Five Years has been such a popular book club pick. If you’re itching to dive in, check out our discussion questions below! Beware — SPOILERS ahead.

—————MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!————

1) In Five Years explores the notions of fate versus choice. Discuss how this theme is presented and how each character reacts. Is it ever possible for fate and choice to overlap and work in tandem? Or will the two always be separate entities that one will have to choose between?

2) Had Dannie not experienced her flashforward, would her life — with David, Bella, her job — still have played out the same way? How much does our knowledge of the future dictate how we live in the present?

3) The novel is bookended by the same scene between Dannie and Aaron, although they carry different meanings at different points in the story. Why do you think Rebecca Serle chose to do this?

4) After having experienced the entirety of the novel, what does this mirrored scene reveal about Dannie? What does it reveal about you as a reader?

5) If the flashforward had happened to another character, do you think the story would still have played out the same way? How do you think they would have reacted?

6) In Five Years grapples with the myriad complexities of love. Discuss how this theme pops up in Dannie’s relationships — with Bella, David, and Aaron. How does Serle use the generic elements of a rom-com to subvert our expectations of how a love story is supposed to play out?

7) Why do you think Serle chose to begin the novel at a point when Dannie’s life was, according to herself at least, near-perfect? Does the falling apart of her step-by-step plan signal a failure somewhere in the process, or does it actually make her life fuller?

8) Neither Dannie nor Bella are particularly close with their parents. Why do you think Serle chose to portray their familial relationships this way?

9) Are there any aspects of the novel that you wish had been different?

10) If given the chance, would you look five years into your future?



New to Audiobooks.com? Get your first book free, PLUS a bonus book from our VIP selection when you sign up for our one-month free trial. Digital audiobooks make audible stories come to life when you’re commuting, working out, cleaning, cooking, and more! Listening is easy with our top-rated free audiobook apps for iOS and Android, which let you download & listen to bestselling audiobooks on the go, wherever you are. Click here to get your free audiobooks!