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Islington Branch Book Club - Past Titles: "The Bandit Queens" by Parini Shroff

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

"The Bandit Queens" by Parini Shroff

  1. Friendship and Solidarity: Discuss the central friendship between the bandit queens, Champa and Sundari. How does their bond evolve over the course of the novel, and what challenges do they face together? In what ways do they support and empower each other in their quest for justice and freedom?

  2. Gender and Power: Explore the theme of gender dynamics in the novel, particularly in relation to the roles of women in Indian society. How do Champa and Sundari challenge traditional gender norms and expectations through their actions and choices? What insights does the novel offer into the intersections of gender, power, and social hierarchy?

  3. Social Justice and Resistance: Reflect on the bandit queens' struggle against oppression and injustice. What injustices do they face as marginalized members of society, and how do they resist systemic oppression through acts of rebellion and defiance? How does their story parallel real-life struggles for social justice and equality?

  4. Identity and Belonging: Consider the theme of identity as it relates to Champa and Sundari's experiences as outcasts and rebels. How do they navigate questions of identity and belonging in a society that seeks to marginalize and criminalize them? What does their journey teach us about the complexity of identity and the search for self-acceptance?

  5. Cultural Context: Discuss the cultural and historical context of the novel, set in rural India during the 20th century. How does the author portray the social, economic, and political realities of the time? What cultural traditions, beliefs, and customs shape the characters' lives and interactions?

  6. Narrative Structure: Reflect on the novel's narrative structure, which alternates between Champa and Sundari's present-day experiences and flashbacks to their past. How does this dual timeline enhance your understanding of the characters and their motivations? What insights does it offer into the factors that led them to become bandit queens?

  7. Ethical Dilemmas: Consider the ethical dilemmas faced by the bandit queens as they navigate questions of morality, justice, and survival. How do they reconcile their actions as outlaws with their own sense of right and wrong? What compromises do they make in pursuit of their goals, and what consequences do they face as a result?

  8. Redemption and Forgiveness: Discuss themes of redemption and forgiveness in the novel. How do Champa and Sundari grapple with their past mistakes and regrets? What opportunities do they have for redemption, and how do they seek forgiveness from others and themselves?

  9. Resilience and Empowerment: Reflect on the resilience and empowerment demonstrated by the bandit queens in the face of adversity. How do they overcome obstacles and setbacks with courage and determination? What strengths and qualities enable them to persevere in their struggle for justice and freedom?

  10. Legacy and Impact: Consider the legacy of the bandit queens and the impact of their story on future generations. How are they remembered by those who knew them, and what lessons can be learned from their lives and struggles? How does their legacy inspire others to fight for social change and equality?

Parini Shroff received her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied under Elizabeth McCracken, Alexander Chee, and Cristina García. She is a practicing attorney and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Bandit Queens is her debut novel.


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