Discussion guide

1. In the novel, Aris, the main character, dies of cancer. Why, do you think, the author chose Aris’s death? Couldn’t Aris find a cure and survive his illness?

2. If you were an artist, what colors would you paint the book jacket and why?

3. Have you identified with any of the characters? If yes, who is your favorite and why?

4. In our contaminated environment, cancer has become an epidemic. People have become aware of this hard truth, and they seek ways to improve their health and environment such as recycling, going green, growing organic foods, and finding alternative fuel and energy sources. Research and discuss how effective these and other solutions are.

5. Do you know of someone who suffered from cancer? Did he/she survive it? If yes, how did he/she recover from it?

6. What are the physical and emotional implications of cancer for the patient and his/her family?

7. If you had survived cancer, how would your perspective towards life have changed?

8. Do you think the story only tells you about the gloomy side of humankind’s destruction? Is there any positive message in it? If so, what?

9. This is a thinking man’s (and woman’s) story. Do you think the average reader would take a serious interest in it? Does the novel presuppose that only “intellectual” readers should read it?

10. Is humankind’s “march of doom” inevitable, or do you think the author wants you to examine yourself, and the world around you, and struggle to find solutions?

11. Do you have problems with the many allusions to literary works difficult to interpret? Are the footnotes provided by the author enough to help you comprehend these?

12. Would you recommend The Agony of Survival to your friends as an interesting book to read?

13. Do you think the translator has brought this novel close to an American audience’s tastes?