In February we will be reading Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder – the story of one man’s journey from Burundi to America, having survived civil war and genocide. It is inspiring account of one man’s remarkable journey and of the ordinary people who helped him–a brilliant testament to the power of will and of second chances.
Below are our suggested questions for the book, you can either post responses on our Facebook page, or take the questions to your own book club and explore the answers together.
Peace Direct supports the Amahoro Youth Club in Burundi – a group of 25 volunteers targeting the most radical of their peers to change attitudes towards violence among young people. Find out more.
Let us know if your book club is following our recommendations and we’ll send you our info pack.
February book club questions
- How does Deo derive his name? What is the irony in his name… or is there any irony? What are the meanings of some of the other names of those he meets along his journey?
- How does Deo think about his experiences in New York City as compared to his growing-up years in Burundi? Does he change his views over time?
- Talk about the meaning of this observation from Chapter 7 regarding history: “… history, even more than memory, distorts the present of the past by focusing on big events and making one forget that most people living in the present are otherwise preoccupied, that for them omens often don’t exist.”
- What is Deo’s reason for refusing psychiatric treatment? Do you agree with his decision and reasoning? Could he benefit from therapy?
- Upon hearing Deo’s account of his life, Kidder admits that he himself would not have survived. What qualities does Deo possess that enabled his survival? How do you think you might have fared under the same circumstances?
- How and why does Kidder’s relationship with Deo change during his trip with Deo to Burundi?
- Describe Deo’s reaction upon visiting the Muhato hospital. What is the significance of the left open door? How does the hospital visit compare to Deo’s visit to the Murambi memorial?
- Talk about Deo’s belief that the primary cause of genocide is misery. Do you agree with his observation?
- In the epilogue, Deo talks about the Burundian volunteers who are building a road to his clinic. Talk about why they are so committed to bringing Deo’s dream to fruition.
In what way, if at all, has this book changed your understanding of genocide? What other books or films have you seen that have focused on this problem, not just in Africa but in other parts of the world? Do you see genocide as a localised problem or a global issue?