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Islington Branch Book Club - Past Titles: "The Hundred-Foot Journey" by Richard C. Morais

Take a look through previous titles we've discussed at our Islington Branch Book Club

"The Hundred-Foot Journey" by Richard C. Morais

  1. Cultural Identity and Assimilation:

    • How do the Haji family's Indian roots clash with the French culture they encounter upon settling in the small village of Lumière? Discuss the challenges of assimilation faced by the family members.
    • Explore the significance of food as a cultural marker. How does the cuisine of India contrast with traditional French cooking, and how do these culinary differences reflect broader cultural divides?
  2. Ambition and Pursuit of Excellence:

    • Analyze the motivations of Hassan Haji, the novel's protagonist, as he strives to become a world-renowned chef. What drives Hassan's ambition, and how does it evolve throughout the story?
    • Discuss the parallels between Hassan's culinary journey and his personal growth. How does his pursuit of excellence in the kitchen reflect his quest for self-discovery and fulfillment?
  3. Family Dynamics and Relationships:

    • Explore the dynamics within the Haji family, particularly the relationship between Hassan and his father, Papa. How do their differing aspirations and personalities create tension and conflict?
    • Discuss the role of family traditions and expectations in shaping Hassan's choices and sense of identity. How do familial bonds influence his journey as a chef and as an individual?
  4. Cross-Cultural Connections and Friendship:

    • Examine the friendships that develop between the Haji family and the residents of Lumière, particularly Madame Mallory, the owner of a Michelin-starred restaurant. How do these cross-cultural connections bridge divides and foster understanding?
    • Discuss the transformative power of friendship and mentorship in Hassan's life. How do his relationships with Madame Mallory and other characters influence his culinary skills and worldview?
  5. The Power of Food and Cooking:

    • Explore the role of food as a central theme in the novel. How does Richard C. Morais use descriptions of food and cooking to evoke sensory experiences and emotions?
    • Discuss the symbolism of cooking as a form of communication and connection. How do characters use food to express themselves, build relationships, and bridge cultural differences?
  6. Themes of Prejudice and Acceptance:

    • Examine the theme of prejudice in the novel, particularly the discrimination faced by the Haji family as immigrants in France. How do cultural stereotypes and misconceptions affect their integration into the community?
    • Discuss the moments of acceptance and understanding that occur between characters from different cultural backgrounds. How do these moments challenge prejudice and promote empathy?
  7. The Ending and Resolution:

    • Reflect on the ending of the novel and Hassan's culinary achievements. How does Hassan reconcile his Indian heritage with his success in the French culinary world? What does the resolution of his journey suggest about cultural identity and belonging?
  8. Adaptation and Film:

    • If applicable, discuss the film adaptation of "The Hundred-Foot Journey" directed by Lasse Hallström. How does the film interpret the themes and characters of the novel, and how does it compare to the original text?

Richard C. Morais is a journalist and author known for his works of fiction and non-fiction, often focusing on cultural exploration, gastronomy, and the human experience. Here's a brief biography of Richard C. Morais:

Early Life and Education: Richard C. Morais was born in Lisbon, Portugal, and grew up in Switzerland, where he attended the International School of Geneva. He later moved to the United States to attend Boston University, where he studied journalism.

Career: Morais began his career as a journalist, working for publications such as Forbes magazine, where he served as a senior editor and foreign correspondent for over two decades. His journalistic work often focused on business, finance, and international affairs.

In addition to his work in journalism, Morais is also an accomplished author. He is best known for his debut novel, "The Hundred-Foot Journey," published in 2008. The novel tells the story of Hassan Haji, a talented young chef from Mumbai, India, who moves to a small village in France and opens an Indian restaurant across the street from a Michelin-starred French restaurant. "The Hundred-Foot Journey" received critical acclaim for its vivid characters, evocative descriptions of food, and exploration of cultural identity and culinary passion.

Following the success of "The Hundred-Foot Journey," Morais went on to write several other works of fiction and non-fiction. His subsequent novels include "Buddhaland Brooklyn" (2012), which follows the journey of a Japanese Buddhist monk who moves to Brooklyn, New York, and "The Man with No Borders" (2019), a novel about a billionaire who embarks on a journey of self-discovery.

Morais has also written non-fiction books, including "The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob" (1990), a true-crime account of the Irish-American gang known as the Westies.

Personal Life: Richard C. Morais currently resides in New York City. He continues to write and is active in the literary community. Morais's background as an international journalist and his passion for exploring diverse cultures and culinary traditions inform his writing, which often delves into themes of cultural identity, ambition, and the human experience.

Richard C. Morais's distinctive voice and storytelling style have earned him a loyal readership and critical acclaim. Through his novels and non-fiction works, he explores the complexities of human relationships, the pursuit of excellence, and the power of food to connect people across cultural divides.


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