Reading Group Center

Steven Amsterdam Guides Us Through Things We Didn't See Coming

In reviewing Steven Amsterdam’s acclaimed debut, Things We Didn’t See Coming, The Washington Post declared it to be “The kind of book that can inspire us to think differently about the world and entertain us at the same time.” Sounds like a reading group pick to us! We asked Steven if he could create a special reading group guide for us, and he obliged, writing wonderfully thought-provoking questions that are sure to inspire debate among your group’s members. Click here to download the guide, and read on for some sample questions.

Q: Recent novels that take place in dystopian settings, including Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood, similarly portray worlds of deprivation and social breakdown. In what way is Things We Didn’t See Coming different from other contemporary books about the future?

Q: It is sometimes said that inside every dystopian novel is a utopian novel trying to get out. If this is true, and they are two sides of one idea, why might dystopian novels be more prevalent at present? Several reviewers have spoken of a sense of hope throughout Things We Didn’t See Coming. Where do you find it?

Click here to read an excerpt of the book, and click here to read a special Q&A with the author.

Praise for Things We Didn’t See Coming:

Things We Didn’t See Coming feels like a genuine discovery. It is the most compelling portrait of dystopia I’ve read in years…. Timely and unexpectedly moving.” —Taylor Antrim, The Daily Beast

“Deeply smart….and full of surprises.” —Time Out New York

“[The narrator] is a wry observer with a throbbing conscience…. A heartbreaker. It’s hard to embrace a Cassandra. But Amsterdam seems to still be betting on the better parts of our humanity, if not our prescience, to see us through.” —The Plain Dealer