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The Incendiaries

R. O. Kwon

7 Reviews

Rated 0

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

'R. O. Kwon is the real deal' LAUREN GROFF

'Absolutely electric . . . Everyone should read this book' GARTH GREENWELL

'Every explosive requires a fuse. That's R. O. Kwon's novel, a straight, slow-burning fuse' VIET THANH NGUYEN

'In dazzlingly acrobatic prose, R. O. Kwon explores the lines between faith and fanaticism, passion and violence, the rational and the unknowable' CELESTE NG

'A sharp, little novel as hard to ignore as a splinter in your eye' WASHINGTON POST

'Raw and finely wrought' NEW YORK TIMES

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A powerful, darkly glittering novel about violence, love, faith, and loss, as a young Korean American woman at an elite American university is drawn into acts of domestic terrorism by a cult tied to North Korea.

Phoebe Lin and Will Kendall meet their first month at prestigious Edwards University. Phoebe is a glamorous girl who doesn't tell anyone she blames herself for her mother's recent death. Will is a misfit scholarship boy who transfers to Edwards from Bible college, waiting tables to get by. What he knows for sure is that he loves Phoebe.

Grieving and guilt-ridden, Phoebe is increasingly drawn into a religious group--a secretive extremist cult--founded by a charismatic former student, John Leal. He has an enigmatic past that involves North Korea and Phoebe's Korean American family. Meanwhile, Will struggles to confront the fundamentalism he's tried to escape, and the obsession consuming the one he loves. When the group bombs several buildings in the name of faith, killing five people, Phoebe disappears. Will devotes himself to finding her, tilting into obsession himself, seeking answers to what happened to Phoebe and if she could have been responsible for this violent act.

The Incendiaries is a fractured love story and a brilliant examination of the minds of extremist terrorists, and of what can happen to people who lose what they love most.

____________________________________________________________ 'A stunning debut . . . discomforting yet thoroughly engrossing' MARIE CLARE

'A combustive tale about the human compulsion to latch onto something bigger than ourselves, no matter the cost' VOGUE
'Religion, politics and love collide in this slim but powerful novel reminiscent of Donna Tart's The Secret History, with menace and mystery lurking in every corner' PEOPLE (Book of the Week)

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Praise for The Incendiaries

  • An impressive, assured debut about the hope for personal and political revolution and all the unexpected ways it flickers out. Kwon has vital things to say about the fraught times we live in

  • Every explosive requires a fuse. That's R. O. Kwon's novel, a straight, slow-burning fuse. To read her novel is to follow an inexorable flame coming closer and closer to the object it will detonate-the characters, the crime, the story, and, ultimately, the reader

  • The Incendiaries is a God-haunted, willful, strange book written with a kind of savage elegance. I've said it before, but now I'll shout it from the rooftops: R. O. Kwon is the real deal

  • The Incendiaries probes the seductive and dangerous places to which we drift when loss unmoors us. In dazzlingly acrobatic prose, R. O. Kwon explores the lines between faith and fanaticism, passion and violence, the rational and the unknowable

  • A swift, sensual novel about the unraveling of a collegiate relationship and its aftermath. Kwon writes gracefully about the spiritual insecurities of millennials

  • Radiant . . . a dark, absorbing story of how first love can be as intoxicating and dangerous as religious fundamentalism . . . - New York Times Book Review

  • This debut novel is absolutely electric, something new in the firmament. Eve

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R. O. Kwon

R. O. Kwon is a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow. Her writing has appeared in The Guardian, Time, Vice, BuzzFeed, the San Francisco Chronicle, Playboy, Noon, Electric Literature, and elsewhere. She has received awards from Yaddo, MacDowell, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, Omi International, the Steinbeck Center, and the Norman Mailer Writers Colony. Born in South Korea, Kwon has lived most of her life in the United States.