Reading Groups

Discussion Questions for Watercolours

  1. Growing up, how much did the physical landscape of your childhood contribute to your sense of identity?
  2. The river, the koel, the drought, the rain — nature and the seasons are common to everyone in the story and yet each character has their own relationship to these elements. How do these differ and what does it reveal about them?
  3. How did the author’s shifting point of view work in creating the sense of a complex community?
  4. Novi describes himself as trying to take up the smallest space possible, while his mother, Mira, is ‘a kind of explosion’ whom ‘people can’t help noticing’. Discuss the role of personality in the parent/child dynamic.
  5. Novi is a talented artist who paints the world as he sees it, which shocks many adults in the story. Art, censorship and self-expression are central themes in the novel — how much does the viewer bring to the experience of art, and how much is the artist’s intent?
  6. What constitutes ‘good’ art and ‘bad’ art?
  7. Did you side with Dom or Camille in your reaction to Mira’s portrait?
  8. Was Rotary’s decision to withdraw Novi’s funding appropriate?
  9. Morus is a fictional town created by the author but draws on events from Australian history. How reliable is history when it is told through fiction? Can we learn more from historical fiction than straight history books, or less?
  10. What does the image of the boat represent in the story?
  11. Where do you see Dom and Camille heading?
  12. Never heard a koel bird calling? Listen here.
The tree from the cover of Watercolours