1. Anna, the narrator of Mercy is self-destructing, succumbing to “the pain and riot” of “burned, bloodied Africa.” Tension is inherent in all war coverage. Do you imagine Anna to be typical of journalists in war-ravaged surroundings?
2. What is your initial reaction to the character Mercy? In what situations throughout the novel does the author put Mercy that perhaps causes you to change your view of her?
3. Discuss the relationship between Anna and Mercy and how the author develops both characters.
4. The author shows us obvious differences between Michael and Nick. What is it about each one that draws Anna to him? Are they alike in any ways?
5. Discuss the character Father Anselmo. What is his relationship with the people of Korogocho? With Anna? With Mercy? What does he represent?
6. The act of care-giving comes full circle between Anna and Mercy. What similarities are there in how they take care of each other? How is it different? How does it bond them?
7. Discuss the protest movement that Mercy initiates. What are the dynamics of that movement? What rules does Mercy insist upon? What makes the movement effective?
8. At the end of the book the author quotes scripture from 1 Corinthians 13. How is the author using this passage to comment on the story the novel tells? What does “mercy” mean in this context?
9. Does Mercy’s and Anna’s story make you want to know more about the AIDS epidemic in Africa? Does it make you question the role the U.S. has played?
10. Western writers (Isak Dinesen, Ernest Hemingway, Graham Greene, Barbara Kingsolver, John le Carré) have long been drawn to Africa. What other novels set in Africa have you read? Discuss the portrait of Africa that emerges from Mercy. What qualities of the continent and its people does the novel evoke? In what ways does Mercy continue the tradition of Western authors writing about Africa? In what ways does the novel depart from that tradition?