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Islington Branch Book Club - Past Titles: "The Latecomer" by Jean Hanff Korelitz

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

"The Latecomer" by Jean Hanff Korelitz

  1. Identity and Belonging: Discuss the theme of identity as portrayed in the novel. How does Roz's discovery of her biological parents challenge her sense of self? In what ways does she grapple with questions of identity and belonging throughout the story?

  2. Family Dynamics: Analyze the complex family relationships depicted in the novel, including Roz's relationships with her adoptive parents, her biological parents, and her husband and children. How do these relationships evolve and intersect over the course of the story? What role does family history play in shaping Roz's understanding of herself and her place in the world?

  3. Nature vs. Nurture: Explore the nature vs. nurture debate as it relates to Roz's experiences. How do her biological heritage and upbringing influence her personality, values, and choices? To what extent do genetics and environment shape who we are as individuals?

  4. Secrets and Lies: Reflect on the theme of secrets and lies in the novel. How do the characters' secrets impact their relationships and interactions with one another? What consequences do they face when these secrets are revealed?

  5. The Adoption Experience: Consider the portrayal of adoption in the novel. How does Roz's experience as an adoptee differ from that of her children, who are conceived through IVF? What insights does the novel offer into the challenges and complexities of the adoption process?

  6. Social Class and Privilege: Discuss the theme of social class and privilege as it relates to Roz's journey. How do her encounters with her biological family, who are wealthy and privileged, contrast with her own middle-class upbringing? In what ways does class intersect with themes of identity and self-discovery?

  7. Character Development: Analyze the development of Roz's character throughout the novel. How does she change and grow in response to the revelations about her past? What conflicts and internal struggles does she face as she navigates her newfound identity?

  8. Ethical Dilemmas: Consider the ethical dilemmas presented in the novel, particularly in relation to Roz's decision to seek out her biological parents. How do the characters grapple with questions of morality, autonomy, and the right to know one's origins?

  9. Narrative Structure: Reflect on the novel's narrative structure, which alternates between Roz's present-day experiences and flashbacks to her childhood and adolescence. How does this narrative technique enhance your understanding of Roz's journey and the complexities of her identity?

  10. Resolution and Reflection: Consider the ending of the novel and Roz's eventual reconciliation with her past. How does she come to terms with her dual identity and find a sense of peace? What lessons does she learn about herself and her place in the world?

Early Life and Education: Jean Hanff Korelitz was born in New York City and grew up in a literary household, where a love of reading and storytelling was encouraged from a young age. She attended Dartmouth College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature. Later, she pursued graduate studies in poetry at Clare College, Cambridge.

Literary Career: After completing her education, Korelitz began her literary career as a novelist, poet, and essayist. She gained recognition with her debut novel, "A Jury of Her Peers" (1996), which explores themes of friendship, loyalty, and moral ambiguity. Korelitz continued to write novels that received critical acclaim for their insightful exploration of the human condition and the complexities of relationships.

One of Korelitz's most notable works is "Admission" (2009), a novel that follows the story of a Princeton University admissions officer grappling with ethical dilemmas and personal challenges. The novel was adapted into a film starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd in 2013.

Korelitz's other novels include "You Should Have Known" (2014), a psychological thriller about a therapist whose life unravels when she uncovers dark secrets about her husband, and "The Plot" (2021), a literary thriller about a struggling writer who steals an idea for a novel with disastrous consequences.

In addition to her novels, Korelitz has written essays and articles for publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Slate. She is known for her incisive commentary on literature, culture, and social issues.

Personal Life: Jean Hanff Korelitz resides in New York City with her husband, Irish poet Paul Muldoon, and their children. She is actively involved in the literary community and has taught creative writing at various universities and writing workshops.

Legacy: Jean Hanff Korelitz has established herself as a talented and versatile author, known for her ability to craft compelling narratives that resonate with readers on both an intellectual and emotional level. Her novels explore universal themes of love, loss, ambition, and self-discovery, offering insightful commentary on the human experience. Through her writing, Korelitz continues to captivate and inspire audiences with her thought-provoking storytelling and keen insights into the complexities of modern life.


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