Discussion Guide: The Verifiers

1. The premise of the novel is that there is an agency in New York investigating people’s online-dating personas to check if they are being truthful about who they say they are. How do you think the increasingly virtual nature of our interactions has affected how we present ourselves to others, and what does it mean for us to think that we know somebody?

2. In the novel, online-dating platforms try to develop algorithms that can predict romantic compatibility. If such algorithms were accurate, do you think that would be beneficial or detrimental? What do you think we would gain and/or lose?

3. At one point, Claudia thinks that the way consumers interact with tech companies—we use their services to make our lives easier and more efficient, and in exchange we acquiesce to their collecting information about us for their own use—is either a twenty-first-century social contract or a Faustian bargain (p. 44). Which one of the two metaphors feels more apt to you? Or would you characterize the relationship between consumers and tech companies differently?

4. How does the novel explore, and subvert, Asian American stereotypes?

5. Claudia’s siblings were raised in Taiwan by their grandparents, whereas Claudia was raised in New York by her mother. How do you think this has shaped Claudia’s relationships with her siblings, and the relationships of the three children with their mother?

6. How do Claudia’s views about her siblings change over the course of the novel? How do you think this may affect the way she relates to them going forward?

7. In addition to Charles, Coraline, and Claudia, the novel features another set of siblings, Sarah and Iris. How does the novel gradually reveal the true nature of Sarah and Iris’s relationship? How do the dynamics between Sarah and Iris compare and contrast with the dynamics among the Lin siblings?

8. Why do you think Komla agrees to help the verifiers apprehend Lucinda? Do you think he has his own plans that he is not sharing with the verifiers?

9. Toward the end of the novel, Becks, Squirrel, and Claudia discuss how Veracity’s filter is increasingly unable to pick out the synths among a platform’s online-dating profiles (p. 344). What are the implications of this?

10. Claudia eventually tells her mother she might not find a nice Chinese boy (p. 350). How do you interpret her mother’s response?

11. In a novel that is all about online dating, Claudia is neither online nor otherwise dating. Why do you think she chooses not to?

12. How does the novel use Claudia’s perspective as a cyclist to render New York City for the reader?

13. The novel contains a number of allusions to Pride and Prejudice. What aspects of Pride and Prejudice does the novel draw on, and also challenge?

14. How are the tropes of the murder mystery elucidated in the novel, and how does the novel play with aspects of the murder mystery genre?