Readers’ Discussion Guide

Discussion Questions for At Night in the Floating World

This book is set in a future, dystopian world with a single, strict world government. How did this make you feel while reading this book? What were your primary emotions? Would you want to live in this world?

Think about the main characters:

  • why do they do what they do?
  • how is Xie’s persona different from Brighton’s? 
  • how does Nick justify his line of work? 
  • how do different characters mirror each other’s experiences? 
  • do they remind you of anyone you know?

How do the characters’ past experiences shape their reactions to things that are happening to them now? For example, the chapters where Nick and Brighton first have sex – the encounter is shown from each character’s POV. How or why do they both reach the incorrect conclusion that the other one is pulling away?

Discuss the plot:

  •  Is it engaging—do you find the story interesting?
  •  How does the plot unfold? Slowly, with a focus on character, or as a fast page-turner? Both?
  •  Were you surprised by anything?

Talk about the book’s structure:

  • Is this a linear story, or does it shift back and forth from past to present?
  •  How does the structure help or hurt the story?
  • What difference does the structure make in the way you read or understand the book?

This book explores serious themes, such as spousal abuse and PTSD. What other, lighter themes are explored? How effectively does the author communicate these themes? Does the author use symbols to reinforce the main ideas? How does the title tie in to the book’s themes?

What passages strike you as insightful or profound? Are there conversations or bits of dialogue that really capture a character for you?

Is the ending satisfying? If so, why? If not, why not? How would you change it?

If you could ask the author a question, what would you ask? Have you read other works by the same author? If so, how does this work compare? If this is your first experience of this author’s work, would you be inclined to read more?

Has this novel changed you—broadened your perspective? Have you learned something new or been exposed to different ideas about people or a certain part of the world?