Excerpted from The Debba by Avner Mandelman. Copyright © 2010 by Avner Mandelman. Excerpted by permission of Other Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
1. How powerful are David's black dreams? Trace the various moments throughout the novel where they become more or less powerful. Do you think he can ever be completely rid of them?
2. What was Isser's motivation for writing "The Debba"? Why do you think he insisted David produce the play so soon after his death--especially when he himself witnessed the conflict it could bring?
3. Discuss David's attraction to Ruthy versus his attraction to Jenny. What about each woman captivates or distracts him? What do you think brings David and Ruthy back together? What does each woman see in David?
4. Discuss Isser's friendships with both Paltiel and Abdullah. How did the relationships evolve from his military days to his death? Do you see any similarities in David and Ehud's relationship?
5. Why is David considered such a threat, so dangerous they send assassins after him? Are they afraid of him or the play? Where does David find the determination to overcome the obstacles he encounters?
6. Discuss family loyalty in The Debba. Does it differ between the Jewish and Arab families we meet?
7. The Debba is steeped in mystery--of both the past and the present. From the myth of the Debba to the circumstances surrounding Isser's death, discuss the power these secrets have over the characters.
8. Where--and among whom--does David feel most at ease? Does he fit in anywhere? Will he ever be able to escape his past?
9. Has this fictional account influenced your knowledge or feelings about Israel's history or current situation?
10. What is Abdullah's ultimate motive for helping David stage the play?
11. How does the revelation of David's true father influence David's feelings about where he fits in the Israeli community? Did your opinion of David's character change when you learned the truth? Were you surprised?
12. What was your opinion of Isser's play, "The Debba"? Discuss the play's supporters and protesters and the intensity of their opinions.
13. Of all the characters seeking vengeance in The Debba, do any of them attain it?