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Discussion Questions

A Bintel Brief

by Liana Finck

  1. In A Bintel Brief, Liana Finck deals with a layered mystery from her family’s past: Her grandmother, who sent her the notebook, knows it’s a precious piece of family history but has no idea what it says or why it’s significant. Finck is able to translate the book, but other questions remain. Are there mysteries in your own family history? What parts have you been able to figure out, and which parts can you only guess at?
  2. What do you think made the Bintel Brief advice column so popular? Does social media offer the same benefits that advice columns once did, or are there certain things readers get from advice columns that they can’t get from stories and questions on blogs or Facebook?
  3. By telling her story as a graphic novel, Liana Finck can play with surrealism, showing characters getting swallowed up by silence, or who knit webs to entrap their spouses. How did having this visual element change the emotional tenor of the stories? Were there images that particularly stood out for you?
  4. One of the side effects of a surrealist approach is that it keeps reminding us that we’re seeing something that may be emotionally true, but might not be completely factual. When Abraham Cahan admits he invented some of the letters, did that change how you felt about them? Were there particular letters you were sure were real or made up? Why?
  5. The subtitle “Love and Longing in Old New York” hints at Finck’s own life as a millennial in modern day Brooklyn. How do you see her perspective coming through in the book?

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Discussion Questions." (Viewed on March 25, 2018) <>.


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