BKMT READING GUIDES

The Rib King: A Novel
by Ladee Hubbard

Published: 2022-01-11T00:0
Paperback : 384 pages
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“Ultimately the reason to read The Rib King is not its timeliness or its insight into politics or Black culture, but because it accomplishes what the best fiction sets out to do: It drops you into a world you could not otherwise visit and makes you care deeply about what happens ...
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Introduction

“Ultimately the reason to read The Rib King is not its timeliness or its insight into politics or Black culture, but because it accomplishes what the best fiction sets out to do: It drops you into a world you could not otherwise visit and makes you care deeply about what happens there.”--BookPage (starred review)

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Excerpt

1
The Current Orphans

Mr. Sitwell had finished work and was passing through the garden on his way to Prescott Avenue when he happened to look up at the house and see something he shouldn’t have. One of the Barclays’ current orphans was standing in the main hall. Dressed in a gray shirt and dark blue knee pants, black stockings sagging above his brown shoes. The boy had his hands on his hips and head cocked to one side as he stared, transfixed by the antique starter pistol on the third shelf of Mrs. Barclay’s cabinet d’objets. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

-How do Mr. Sitwell and the cast of characters in this novel exercise agency under threats of violence, both physical and symbolic? / What differences can you see in the way these characters respond, adapt, and cope with interpersonal and systemic violence?

-Compare and contrast the two sections of The Rib King. In what ways does Jennie’s story in part two respond to Mr. Sitwell’s story in part one? How are these two sections differ from each other structurally?

-How did you respond to Mr. Sitwell’s reaction while reading the fictional retelling of his upbringing? How did it make you reflect on your own reading experiences, or the experience of reading this very novel (The Rib King)?

-What images did you grow up with that trafficked in stereotypes and otherwise harmful archetypes? What images do you see that persist today, in marketing and advertisements, in the media, etc.? How similar (or different) are they to those depicted in The Rib King?

Reflect on the two epigraphs of this novel, from George W. Walker and Aida Overton Walker.

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