A few thought-provoking questions:

1. The protagonist of Chasing the King of Hearts, Izolda Regensberg, was a real person who told her story to Hanna Krall so that she would turn it into a book. How is the reading experience affected by the fact that the story is based on actual events?

2. Discuss the role of humour in the book.

3. What symbolic role does the pack of cards play?

4. Did you find the book uplifting or depressing?

5. What is your reaction towards the character of Shayek? Did your opinion of him change throughout the story? Do you think the author was seeking to elicit that reaction?

6. What is the role of the uncaptioned photographs included in the book? How do they complement the text?

7. How is Chasing the King of Hearts different from other ‘Holocaust novels’ you have read? Under what other genres or sub-genres could it be classified?

8. Discuss how the theme of identity is explored in the book.

9. At one point in the book, the narrator says that ‘everything in life is interwoven in enigmatic ways.’ Discuss the role that chance and personal choice play in Izolda’s story.

10. Theodor Adorno famously said that ‘to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.’ Does Hanna Krall’s unadorned, laconic style suit the events narrated in her book?


You can download our reading guide as a pdf here.