R. O. Kwon

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The Incendiaries, my first novel, is about a woman who gets involved with a group of fundamentalist Christians. It turns out to be a cult with ties to North Korea, and the cult ends up bombing five buildings. I grew up deeply religious, then left the faith while I was in high school. A lot of people exist on just one side of the belief spectrum: they know what it is to believe in a god, or they have no idea at all. In my writing, I want to cross that giant rift, to show each side what the other’s worldview can look like. I can also speak about religion in fiction, craft, writing and politics, and revision.

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. —Lauren Groff, author of Fates and Furies and Florida

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. —Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer and The Refugees

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. —Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You 

A swift, sensual novel about the unraveling of a collegiate relationship and its aftermath. Kwon writes gracefully about the spiritual insecurities of millennials. —Karan Mahajan, author of The Association of Small Bombs
A profound, intricate exploration of how grief and lost faith and the vulnerable storm of youth can drive people to irrevocable extremes, told with a taut intensity that kept me up all night. R.O. Kwon is a thrilling writer, and her splendid debut is unsettled, irresistible company.” —Laura van den Berg, author of The Isle of Youth and Find Me


R.O. Kwon’s nationally bestselling first novel, The Incendiaries, is published by Riverhead, and it is being translated into five languages. Named a best book of the year by over forty publications, it is an American Booksellers Association Indie Next #1 Pick and an Indies Introduce selection. The Incendiaries was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award for Best First Book, Los Angeles Times First Book Prize, and Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Fiction Prize. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Paris Review, Buzzfeed, NPR, and elsewhere.