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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

White Dancing Elephants: Stories

1. How are different forms of closeness and intimacy represented, in the stories “Talinda,” “The Story of the Woman Who Fell in Love With Death,” “Orange Popsicles” and others? How might friendships between women form a type of solidarity and strength against violence and sexual harassment experienced by women?

2. Had you heard of the histories described in some of the shorter stories --- of Indian-Portuguese slaves, captured by Portuguese invaders to India, brought back to Europe to serve nuns in convents? What about the impact of the Bhopal disaster on child laborers? How did the very brief glimpse of these historical events, in these stories, make you feel about the events described?

3. Art and the project of creating art assumes many meanings through these very different stories. In “Neela: Bhopal,” the art of brickmaking, the art of imaginative play among children; in “Heitor,” the art of the heist. Poets are critical in stories like “Newberry” and “The Bang Bang,” and in “Chronicle of a Marriage, Foretold,” a woman artist’s diorama plays a role. How did the collection make you think about the processes involved in creating art (whether visual or literary)? Did it make you reflect about whether you might like to create art in your own life? If so, how?

White Dancing Elephants: Stories
by Chaya Bhuvaneswar