How does The Shining Girls illustrate the ways that women’s roles and social issues have changed (or not) throughout the twentieth century?

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Why is The Shining Girls set in Chicago? Watch this video and find out how “the Paris of the West” influenced Lauren and her novel.

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Lauren Beukes discusses the depiction of violence against women in popular culture and how her observations influenced the writing of The Shining Girls.

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The Shining Girls Reading Group Guide

If the paperback publication of The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes inspires you to select it for your next book club meeting, below are a few discussion questions to get the conversation started. Enjoy!

  1. Harper tells his second victim, Zora, “You shine. I need you.” What does shining mean to Harper and what makes each of these very different women a shining girl?
  2. Kirby Mazrachi is the only person to survive Harper’s attack. Is she already a shining girl, or does her survival make her one?
  3. The Shining Girls takes place in Chicago. What role does the city play in the story? How would another setting have changed The Shining Girls?  
  4. When Harper enters the House—before committing any of his future murders—he finds the names of his victims scratched into the wall, in his own handwriting. What is the House and why does it have a hold on him?
  5. What is the significance of the objects Harper takes from his victims? Why does he feel the need to connect them?
  6. Harper is obsessed with signs and portents and feels like he is fulfilling a destiny. What role do free will and fatalism play in The Shining Girls?
  7. Could Kirby have used the House to go back and fix the past and stop Harper before he killed all the women?
  8. What is Kirby and Dan’s relationship? How does it develop and change them?
  9. What is the role of Bartek and how does he fit into the loops of the House?
  10. How does The Shining Girls illustrate the ways that women’s roles and social issues have changed (or not) throughout the twentieth century?
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In her first book set in the U.S., South African novelist Lauren Beukes defies genre, and she dazzles as she does it
Ellah Allfrey, book critic and editor, NPR
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