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Book clubs  •  28 May 2019


The Power of One book club notes

Decades since publication, Bryce Courtenay’s debut still packs an emotional punch.

A hard-fought coming-of-age story set against a backdrop of racism, hatred, conflict and oppression – The Power of One has been firing conversations since its 1989 release. And as a deeply affecting tale of overcoming the insurmountable, through time Bryce Courtenay’s debut novel has lost none of its spark. Take your book club on an African sojourn like no other, with the book that lit-up the literary star of one of Australia’s best-loved writers.

Discussion points and questions:

  • What’s your read on the book’s title? In what ways does ‘The Power of One’ manifest itself in the story?
  • How does it affect your reading of the novel to know that some of the narrative is based on Courtenay’s experiences growing up in South Africa?
  • Which of Peekay’s qualities do you admire? What would you consider his flaws?
  • What bearing does the Second World War have on the story?
  • Do you have a mantra you return to like ‘the power of one’ in your own life?
  • Why do you think Peekay became a symbol of hope that transcended racial boundaries?
  • Have you encountered a nemesis, like the Judge, in your life? If so, what do you find is the best way to deal with them?
  • Why do you think Peekay’s real name is never revealed to us?
  • What would you say is the significance of education in the novel?
  • In many ways, The Power of One is a critique of racism and intolerance. What are some lessons we can still learn from this story?

Feature Title

The Power of One
First with your head and then with your heart . . .
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