Salt and Honey
I'm sometimes asked by readers to suggest group discussion points. Here they are:
1. How would you describe the novel: an adventure story; a romance; a family saga; ethnography?
2. This novel is the start of Koba’s journey and it’s not merely a physical one. Consider the ways in which Koba changes and grows during her time at Impalala.
3. How would you describe the character of the Koba we see at the end of the novel?
4. ‘The character of Marta is intriguing. Her liberal attitude is one that we identify with but her decision to take Koba to the farm (but not to live with them) and not to return her to her people is a difficult one to contemplate.’ Discuss Marta’s actions in the light of her character and circumstances.
5. There is one character in Salt & Honey who from the outset sees Koba as a person rather than a symbol. Who is this and when does this character‘s attitude become gratifyingly obvious to the reader?
6. Are there any aspects of Koba’s grandmother that remind you of your own?
7. Consider what ‘Salt’ and ‘Honey’ might symbolize in the story.
8. There are themes of displacement and a search for identity in this novel. How are these shown?
9. Many readers remark on the strong sense of place in this novel. Which part evoked Africa most vividly for you?
10. One reviewer on Amazon wrote that while Salt and Honey is about “the blossoming of forbidden love in the face of adversity… (it) goes on to have a much stronger, more original message.” What was that, for you?
11. How did you feel about the inclusion of foreign words in the text? Was the glossary useful? And what about the inclusion of background notes in a work of fiction? Do you think these additions would have been better placed at the front of the book?
Why do you think the author chose such a difficult subject to write about? (Doing the research was challenging; the subject matter is sometimes upsetting; the protagonist can’t engage in fluent conversation for much of the novel, and writing as other is morally complex position for an author to place herself in.) Discuss.