> Skip to content

Book clubs  •  23 June 2021


The Coconut Children book club notes

An award-winning pick for your next book club meeting.

Winner of the SMH/Age Best Young Novelist of the Year and the Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year, Vivian Pham's literary career is off to a flying start. Her debut novel The Coconut Children has been described by Michalia Arathimos as 'like reading a young Salman Rushdie or a Zadie Smith'. Discover this emerging talent with your book club, use the questions below to get the discussion started.

Discussion points and questions:

  • On reading The Coconut Children, Dave Eggers referred to ‘the alternately profound and ludicrous angst of youth’. 1970s Cabramatta is a long way from the author’s teenage years, yet this novel comes across as entirely authentic. What is it about those final years of school and early adulthood that are so entirely relatable?
  • Vince is a bad boy and Sonny falls for him hard. Is it a truism that we all have an inclination to romantically chase what is not good for us? Why could that be?
  • The Vietnamese language is used throughout The Coconut Children. Does this add to the depth and colour of the novel?
  • Vivian Pham set out to create complex and contradictory characters, just like those we encounter in real life. How did you feel about Vince and his group of friends?
  • Do you believe refugee stories, both of intergenerational trauma and despair, and success and resilience, are underdone in Australian storytelling? What would you like to read and see more of?
  • An aspect of The Coconut Children that many have commented on is the humour the author brings to the story. How important do you think it is to have moments of lightness, of relief, when sharing sometimes tough tales?
  • Are families, one’s own and those of others - fictional and real – endlessly fascinating?
  • What do you think Vivian Pham will write next?
  • The Coconut Children – mini-series, or movie?

Feature Title

The Coconut Children
From the winner of the SMH/Age Best Young Novelist of the Year and the Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year. Growing up can feel like a death sentence
Read more

More features

See all
2021 ABIA winners

Vivian Pham and Penguin Random House honoured in Australian Book Industry Awards.

Book clubs
Others Were Emeralds book club questions

A stirring coming-of-age novel to read with your book club.

Book clubs
Back to Bangka book club questions

A gripping wartime memoir with a twist, to read with your book club.

Book clubs
I'll Leave You With This book club questions

A heart-breaking, funny, thought-provoking and honest novel to read with your book club.

Book clubs
The Last Love Note book club questions

A sparkling (and heart-breaking) Australian romantic comedy to read with your book club.

Rachael Johns shares her trick for getting words onto the page

We caught up with Rachael Johns to learn about her writing routines, favourite rom-coms and new book The Other Bridget.

The 10 bestselling fiction books of 2023

Check out our top-selling fiction books this year.

Some of the most anticipated books of 2024

From authors including Rachael Johns, Amor Towles, Leigh Bardugo and so many others!

The best books to read with your book club in spring 2023

These are the Penguin Random House books that over 48,000 book clubs voted as the best group reads this October.

A useful guide to Anne Enright

A guide to author Anne Enright and her books.

Didn't get to Europe this year? These 3 books will transport you there

Revisit three Amanda Hampson books to experience European summer from the comfort of your living room.

Contemplating a life change? You need to read this cosy Japanese fiction

Reviewers agree – if you’re feeling in a rut, it’s time to read What You Are Looking For is in the Library. Learn more and see what readers are saying about it.

Looking for more book club notes?

See all book club notes