Hannibal Free Public Library

The Lovers

Rod Norland

February 26, 2018
2:30 – 4:00 p.m.


Discussion Questions

1.       The Lovers: Afghanistan's Romeo and Juliet, the True Story of How They Defied Their Families and Escaped an Honor Killing is the book’s full title.  A sentimental title, is it a good title for this book?  Compare/contrast the book with the Shakespearean play. 

2.       Goodreads has compared The Lovers to The Kite Runner as “A riveting, real-life equivalent.”  What do you think?

3.       Goodreads made another comparison, saying, “The Lovers will do for women’s rights generally what Malala’s story did for women’s education.”    By the book’s conclusion is Zakia more empowered?  Why or why not?

4.       Is Nordland truly sensitive to the couple’s dangerous situation?  Are there occasions when Nordland and his cohorts seem to step beyond boundaries in order to get a story? 

5.       Nordland wrote, “I would become their best hope to survive, entangling myself in their lives in ways that threatened my own values and professional ethics…”  Is it important for a journalist to keep a distance from his subject(s)?  Why or why not?

6.       Rafia Zakaria said, “Zakia and Ali’s tale is, however, only the epidermal layer of “The Lovers”; underneath is an insight into the architecture of Western saviordom and the choices it imposes on those on whom it bestows its benevolence.”  What do you think?

7.       Why do you think Ali’s father supported the couple’s relationship and agreed to take Nordland to them?

8.       Would you be able to raise a family under these conditions?  What would you tell the child(ren) about the grandparents?

9.       Did you find that the couple’s story slowed down with details about the setting or the historical facts?  Did learning more about the setting and the history help paint a larger picture for you?

10.   In her review, Michelle Martinez says, “This book would be a good college common reader for its potential for discussions on human rights, social justice, reporting, extremist religion, the role of the United States in Afghanistan, and more.”  What do you think?