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Book Club Reading Questions

Book Club Questions for Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie | WellRead’s October 2022 selection

Book Club Questions for Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie | WellRead’s October 2022 selection

WellRead’s October 2022 selection was Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie. Equal parts epic and intimate, this is a riveting and profound novel of friendship, identity, and the unknowability of other people. 

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 Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie:

  • Do you think Zahra and Maryam are friends in spite of their differences or because of them? How have you observed difference and similarity playing out in friendships in your own life?
  • Zahra’s and Maryam’s sexuality—their own desires and those projected upon them—threads through the story. How does each experience it—as liberation, as constraint? How does it pull them together? How does it divide them?
  • At the end of Part I, an incident after a friend’s party has not only devastating practical consequences for both girls but a long-term emotional impact on each of them as well. How does this incident prove pivotal for each character in both the short and long term?
  • Politics—specifically, the transition from military dictatorship to the election of Benazir Bhutto in late 1980s Pakistan and the contemporary UK government’s descent into corruption and xenophobia—is an ongoing backdrop to the friends’ relationship. How does it shape their outlooks and their fates?
  • Both women excel in their chosen fields, but their career choices, and the means by which they advance, are as different as they are. What questions does Shamsie seem to be raising about ambition, means, and ends?
  • The novel asks whether principle or loyalty make for the better friend. Discuss!
  • The ending leaves much to the reader’s imagination. What do you think has become of the friendship at this point? Would you have written the ending differently?

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