BKMT READING GUIDES

Hour of the Rat
by Lisa Brackmann

Published: 2013-06-18
Hardcover : 371 pages
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Iraq War vet Ellie McEnroe has a pretty good life in Beijing, representing the work of controversial dissident Chinese artist Zhang Jianli. Even though Zhang's mysterious disappearance of over a year ago has attracted the attention of the Chinese authorities. Even though her Born-Again ...
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Introduction

Iraq War vet Ellie McEnroe has a pretty good life in Beijing, representing the work of controversial dissident Chinese artist Zhang Jianli. Even though Zhang's mysterious disappearance of over a year ago has attracted the attention of the Chinese authorities. Even though her Born-Again mother has come for a visit and shows no signs of leaving.
 
But things really get complicated when Ellie's search for an Army buddy's missing brother entangles her in a conspiracy that may or may not involve a sinister biotech company, eco-terrorists, and art-obsessed Chinese billionaire, and lots of cats—a conspiracy that will take her on a wild chase through some of China's most beautiful and most surreal places.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

Chapter two

I tell myself not to panic.
I’m better about stuff than I was. My heart’s pounding, but it’s not so bad that I feel like I’m going to throw up. They could be here for all kinds of reasons. Checking to make sure I registered my mom at the local Public Security Bureau, maybe. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Ellie puts her life on the line investigating the big business of GMO farming practices in China. Does the risk outweigh the reward in this instance? At what point does science move from helpful to harmful?

2. Secondary to HOUR OF THE RAT is the concept of the surveillance state in which one's every move is potentially observed. What are the forms that surveillance can take? What effects might this have, positive or negative, on a civil society?

3. What is the role of art and artists in a society where political freedom is limited? What does art mean for "common" people who aren't formally trained to "get it?"

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Book Club Recommendations

Chinese Culture
by retiredreaderNE (see profile) 09/16/13
We served Chinese food and had moon cakes as it is Moon Festival time. The table was decorated with items the hostess had purchased on numerous trips to China. No rats, however.

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "Interesting"by retiredreaderNE (see profile) 09/16/13

I suggest this book for a solo read--not book discussion. We did have a Skype session with the author and that helped us to understand the character of Ellie. The book is short on back-story.

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