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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

The Museum of Failures

1. Remy has so many advantages in his life in America. Why does he still feel divided about living there?

2. What do you think of Cyrus’ decision? Do you understand it, or do you think it was selfish? Would you have been able to forgive a parent who made such a decision? As a parent, what kinds of information have you kept from your children, and how does that make you feel?  

3. How do you think Remy’s ignorance of his true past affected his personality?

4. What do you think would have happened had Shirin told Remy the truth? Why didn’t she? How do you feel about her choice? How did your feelings for her change as you heard her version of their past?

5. The flashback scenes are sometimes told from Shirin’s first-person perspective. Is this a successful strategy?

6. What did you make of Dina’s role in this? How did you end up feeling about her choices?

7. Why does Shirin side with Dina after the party?

8. What did you learn about the Parsi community as you read?

9. What do you think of Remy’s colleague greeting him daily with “namaste” in a mock Indian accent and how Remy reacts to that? Remy struggles to find the right word for this daily provocation. It’s not exactly racism, or is it?

10. How did you feel about Remy’s school friends? What does he have in common with them, and is it enough?

11. Why does Remy think of Bombay as a Museum of Failures? How does his past color his view?

12. How do you feel about Remy’s motivations for the adoption? Is Kathy right in pressing him to adopt a child from India?

13. What do you make of the fact that it takes a trifecta of women --- Shirin, Dina and Hillary --- to give Remy what his heart desires?

14. Both of Remy’s parents advise him to not look back when he leaves India. Why? Is this good advice, given everything that he’s learned?

15. If you could add one more chapter, what would happen?

The Museum of Failures
by Thrity Umrigar

  • Publication Date: September 26, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books
  • ISBN-10: 164375355X
  • ISBN-13: 9781643753553