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Book clubs  •  8 November 2021


Empires book club notes

A compelling and inventive novel in five parts to share with your book club.

Anyone who read 48 Shades of Brown and The True Story of Butterfish will know they're in for a treat with Empires. And for anyone new to the work of this award-winning author rest assured, this is Nick Earls at his finest.

We think Adam Ford from Bookseller + Publisher summed it up perfectly in this review, 'A novel in five parts, Empires tracks backwards through history from 2018 to 1809 before returning to the present. It explores the tenuous but tenacious connections between the lives that people live and the objects they acquire throughout those lives. One of the pleasures of Empires is the subtle treasure hunt that Earls sets before his audience, seeding each section with certain recurring objects, elaborating on these objects’ own histories. The astute reader might identify all of these objects on first reading, but there is also pleasure for those who reread this book to trace these objects’ paths through the lives of Empire’s protagonists'.

Discussion points and questions:

  • Did you read Empires as one continuous novel or five novellas?
  • The novel contains parts set in contemporary times and historical moments. Was this multi-layered form satisfying?
  • What does the term ‘Empires’ mean to you and why do you think Nick Earls chose this as the title of his novel?
  • How do you feel about the use of chance events in fiction?
  • The framing story of Empires is about the two brothers Mike and Simon, the family they emerged from and the families they are building. Across the novel male characters are presented differently, eschewing male stereotypes, do you agree with this interpretation?
  • Music is a subtle connector across the parts of the novel. Discuss the different ways music is brought into Empires and what you think this brings to the narrative.
  • Do you have a preferred part of the novel? The five parts share four different narrators and perspectives as well as moments in time, what draws you particularly to that section?

Empires Nick Earls

Empires rise and fall, human lives are lived, collisions occur more than we will ever know, and yet the unexpected can still happen.

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