Disappearing Moon Café by SKY Lee
1. Kae’s desire to write her family’s history coincides with the birth of her first
child. Why might this event trigger her wish to learn more about the women in
her family? What effect does the child’s birth have on Kae’s mother? How is it
linked to previous births of children in the extended family?
2. At one point, Kae reflects ruefully on the “Wonged women” of her family’s last
several generations. To what extent does Lee portray the women of the family as
victims of male oppression? In what situations do the women express agency and
3. The tangled family history is described in the family tree that appears facing the
Table of Contents. What does the family tree reveal about the paternity of
Morgan and Suzanne, and of Beatrice and Keeman?
4. Can you interpret the Chinese characters on the novel’s title page? If you cannot,
do you feel that you are missing part of the story?
5. The Prologue, “Search for Bones,” deals with an important chapter of Chinese
Canadian history. What role did Chinese workers play in the construction of the
CPR? Why does the Chinese Benevolent Association wish to collect the bones of
6. The novel does not progress in a chronological or linear manner; instead, much
like The Green Library, it proceeds in fits and starts, and we gradually learn
details about the lives of a large cast of characters from several generations of this
family. What is the effect of the juxtapositions of multiple time-frames and
characters? Do you find the novel more challenging to read because of these
shifts? Do you find the narrative method effective in conveying this complex
7. Characters in the novel mention several measures that are enacted by the federal
government to limit Chinese immigration, including the “new Chinese Exclusion
Act” (30). What were the measures of this act? What is the contemporary
motivation for seeking redress (financial compensation and/or an official apology)
for this historical discrimination?
8. What other kinds of racial discrimination are the Chinese in Canada subject to in
Lee’s novel? Does Chinatown offer them a safe haven?
9. The unsolved murder of Janet Smith is incorporated into Lee’s novel. Why does
the author elect to use an actual historical event in her fiction? In historical terms,
what were the consequences of this murder for the Chinese Canadian community?
How does Lee portray the effect on the community?