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Book Club Reading Questions

Book Club Questions for Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim | WellRead’s February 2022 selection

Book Club Questions for Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim | WellRead’s February 2022 selection

WellRead’s February 2022 selection was Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim. In telling the story of how this novel came to be, the author says “I’d been thinking about my maternal grandfather, who had worked for the Korean independence movement, and the opening scene of a lost hunter and a tiger leapt into my mind. I came home and wrote the prologue in one sitting—and while much of the book went through changes, what you now have in your hands contains nearly the exact version I wrote that first day. Beasts of a Little Land is the most personal and authentic novel I could ever have written, and I gave it my everything as an artist.” 

Use these discussion questions to engage with the book further, whether in a book club with friends, or just on your own as you digest the story. 

Reading questions for Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim: 

  • What did you know about Korean history before reading the book? What role do you think fiction can play in expanding our understanding of history?
  • Think about the nature and meaning of family in the book. What does family mean to the characters? And how are non-traditional families represented?

  • We adored how the Korean word in-yeon featured throughout. The word doesn't have an English equivalent - what was your interpretation of it and how does it relate to the story's plot and meaning?

  • Did you notice how often women's physical features were described? Why do you think that was and how might it relate to contemporary Korean culture?

  • All of the characters encounter injustice, whether that is through the brutality of the war, their personal experience of violence, or the ways their lives are derailed by the occupation. Which character did you think experienced this injustice most intensely, and which character was the easiest to sympathise with?

  • Kim said that her characters show "how we can live in a meaningful way, even when the world is falling apart, even when the sky is falling down." How does this sentiment manifest in the story?
  • At the core of the book is a group of unbreakable, resilient women who survive against all odds. Where was the strength and support that these women provide for one another most evident for you? And what does the novel tell us about the nature of women’s experience during war?
  • So many questions, not enough space. Here are some topics we missed: symbol of the tiger; love and its different forms; sense of place; class and wealth.

Please note, these questions were written and distributed in February, 2022.