Book Club Questions for Drive-by Saviours
Were you drawn more to Mark or Bumi? Why?
Which of the two men did you most identify with? Why? Was the one you identified with the same as the one you were drawn to? Does that tell you anything about yourself as a reader? As a person?
Mark suffers from paralysis by analysis - he wants to help but he has so many questions and he is so overwhelmed by uncertainty that he usually fails to act at all. Did this irritate you? What would you say to Mark if he asked for your advice?
Between the two men, Bumi faced greater challenges in life, yet Mark was the more disillusioned of the two? Why do you think that is? Did Mark hold your interest as a character despite his negativity and boredom with his own life?
The novel was half set in Indonesia and half in Canada. Which scenes were most compelling for you and why? Was Bumi's life in Canada as interesting as it was in Indonesia? Were his struggles with life as an illegal immigrant and his homesickness and culture shock compelling?
The novel alternates between a chronological third-person account of Bumi's life and a first-person non-chronological narration by Mark. Why do you think the author chose this unusual structure? What was he trying to convey? Did he succeed?
The novel dealt with many themes: mental illness, social isolation, international development, Canadian multiculturalism, culture shock, immigration, cultural preservation, the question of what it is to help, the psychological impacts of authoritarianism, and indigenous healthcare. How do you feel about political literature? Did these issues serve the plot? Or did the plot seem like a device used to discuss political issues? Were politics too abundant in this work? Or a necessary component of a complex story?
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