1. In the opening pages of The Rent Collector, Sang Ly’s grandfather promises that it will be a very
lucky day. What role do you think luck plays in our lives? How does the idea of luck reconcile with the novel’s epigraph, the quote from Buddha on the opening page?
After reading Sarann (the Cambodian Cinderella), Sopeap and Sang Ly discuss how story plot
repeat, reinforcing the same lessons. Sopeap calls resurfacing plots “perplexing” and then asks, “Is
our DNA to blame for this inherent desire to hope? Is it simply another survival mechanism? Is that
why we love Sarann or Cinderella? Or is there more to it?” How would you answer? What are possible explanations for the phenomenon?
3.Sang Ly says that living at the dump is a life where “the hope of tomorrow is traded to satisfy the
hunger of today.” How might this statement also apply to those with modern homes, late-model cars,
plentiful food, and general material abundance?
4. Sopeap tells Sang Ly: “To understand literature, you read it with your head, but you interpret it with your heart. The two are forced to work together—and, quite frankly, they often don’t get along.”
Do you agree? Can you think of examples?
5. In a moment of reflection, Sang Ly admits that she doesn’t mean to be a skeptic, to lack hope, or
to harbor fear. However, she notes that experience has been her diligent teacher. She asks,
“Grandfather, where is the balance between humbly accepting our life’s trials and pleading toward
heaven for help, begging for a better tomorrow?” How would you answer her question?
6. The story ends with Sang Ly retelling the myth of Vadavamukha and the coming of Sopeap to
Stung Meanchey. By the time you reached the final version in the book’s closing pages, had you
remembered the original version in the book’s opening pages? How had the myth changed? How had
Sopeap changed? How had Sang Ly changed?
Have a good weekend!