The Rubbish-Picker’s Wife; an unlikely friendship in Kosovo
by Elizabeth Gowing.
Suggested questions for book groups to consider
  • The book tells the story of how two women from very different backgrounds learn with, from and about one another. Have you had a friendship like this?
  • Did the book remind you of any other books you’ve read? Which titles, and why?
  • Hatemja, the ‘rubbish-picker’s wife’ is apparently the heroine of this story, but which other characters did you find the most vivid?
  • Have you visited any of the places in the book, or anywhere similar? Did the book’s descriptions of its setting ring true?
  • The book describes what is possible in challenging poverty with a small amount of money and volunteer time, but also narrates the dead ends and frustrations of grass-roots development work. Did it change your opinion of how the poorest people can be helped? If so, how? Did it inspire you yourself to take action in any way – locally or internationally?
  • Did you laugh? Did you cry? If yes, at which parts…
  • If you’d been in the author’s position, as she describes it in the book, what would you have done differently?
  • Did the book inspire you to read more – either of similar books such as Beyond the Beautiful Forevers or Three Cups of Tea, or of Elizabeth Gowing’s other books (Travels in Blood and Honey; becoming a beekeeper in Kosovo or Edith and I; on the trail of an Edwardian traveller in Kosovo)?
  • Do you have any questions for the author? She can be contacted at writerelizabethgowing[at]

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