Book club discussion questions for Will Ferguson’s 419

will ferguson 419Due to popular demand, we are reigniting our discussion of Will Ferguson’s Giller Prize-winning novel, 419, first reviewed by yours truly in October last year.

“Should it have won?” was the question that launched a thousand discussions at our meeting that month. And, as I explained then, members were all over the proverbial map when it came to their opinions of Ferguson’s debut thriller novel.

Overall, the club rated the book 2.75 out of five, which is considered a low score by our standards. But, as is always the case, it was the discussion of the book that proved to be the most enlightening element of the book club experience.

It is with this intention that we developed a few discussion questions of our own to further the 419 conversation with our lovely readers (ek-hem, you).

So, go get yourself a lovely glass of whatever you consider to be the good stuff and curl up with us for the next little while. We’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions, so please feel at ease and let them flow freely.

Discussion questions:

  1. What are your opinions of Laura’s father? Was he a coward or was he a cornered man without options?
  2. In this story, everyone is running. Who is predator and who is prey? Who owes and who should pay? – From Jennifer on Goodreads.
  3. What do you think of Laura’s resolve to go find her father’s killer? Courageous? Selfish? Righteous? Myopic? Do her intentions change as she progresses through her journey? How so? What influences those changes?
  4. Winston, Nnamdi, Amina, and Ironsi Egobia all have encounters with Laura. Do their opinions of Westerners change with those encounters? Do they change for better or worse?
  5. What do you think about the narration? Is it clever or confusing how Ferguson links the relationship between Nnamdi and Amina to the rest of the story? Should Ferguson have given equal ink weight to Africa and Canada?
  6. What do you think of the character development? More specifically, what do you think of Amina and Warren?
  7. Overall, is the book thoughtful and substantial, or is the concept cheap as a Made-for-TV thriller?
  8. Does Ferguson take sides in the story, or is he unbiased throughout?
  9. What do you think about the ending?
  10. Following in Laura’s footsteps, how can we help the victims of 419 scams? Indeed, do Westerners have a responsibility or obligation to help the victims or is this Nigeria’s problem? *The word “victims” is subjective here, and could mean anyone involved in the scams.

About Alexandra Reid

Alex Reid is Marketing Manager at Soshal where she helps lead the agency's national marketing, business development, and recruitment initiatives. Prior to joining Soshal, Alex was a technology journalist and consultant for B2B technology businesses focusing primarily on the strategic processes necessary to bring new technology to market. Beyond co-hosting IABC's The Voice podcast, Alex volunteers her talents as Director of Partnerships at Canadian Women in Communications and Technology (CWCT), and as a Communications Committee Member at The Well, a gathering place for women and their children. Alex holds a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University. Known vices include eating crackers in bed and cat gifs.
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2 Responses to Book club discussion questions for Will Ferguson’s 419

  1. Pingback: October book review – Will Ferguson’s Giller Prize-winning novel 419 falls flat | The "Unputdownable" Book Club

  2. Ms. D. says:

    I read this book within a week. it was interesting and I think that its my choice for May, 2014. There are people out there just like Henry who need to know that scams can begin as being very innocent to the victim. We need to be aware of how easy it is to be scammed by the 419. Put this on your list as one of your must reads. we need to be aware.


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