Book Clubs

Questions for discussing Opium Nation

 -Nawa’s one of a handful of insiders who speaks the native language in Afghanistan and has written on the country. How is her view different than other “outsider” penned books you’ve read on the country?


-What are the various roles that women play in the opium trade in Afghanistan? Are they always victims? Does the money from the trade empower women and if so, how?


-How is Darya a metaphor for Nawa’s relationship to Afghanistan? Why does Nawa become so attached to her even though she hardly knows her?


-How are men portrayed in the book? What are some examples of positive relationships between Afghan men and women?


-How do Nawa’s parents react to their homeland when they return to visit their daughter? How is their reaction different than Nawa’s? How close are you to your community and country? Can you imagine what it be would be like to lose it?


-How was your image of Afghanistan affected after reading Opium Nation?


-Many of Nawa’s epiphanies occur on rooftops. Can you name the three occasions when she has profound moments standing on rooftops? Why do rooftops invoke such strong emotions for Nawa?


-Which character can you relate to most and why?


-What is the international community doing to stop the drug trade? Is eradication of poppy farms an effective method of fighting the drug trade? What do you think of legalizing the narcotics trade worldwide?


-How do illegal drugs make their way into conflict zones?


-Nawa chooses a short chapter on addiction and the female addict she speaks of is humorous and loving. Why do you think she chose to portray addiction in such a light manner rather than focusing on the hopelessness of the illness? How do most Afghans become addicted to drugs?


-The two good counter narcotics agents in the book risk their life fighting the drug trade. What is the importance of including their experiences and stories in the book?


-Should the United States remain involved in Afghanistan? If so, in what capacity?