To call The Incendiaries a love story would be an oversimplification. There is love, yes, but there is also the darkness beyond that, where love crosses the line into obsession, and faith into fanaticism, and pain into annihilation. R. O. Kwon doesn't waste a single word, with prose sharp enough to draw blood and a distinctive, fully realized voice. I fully expect this to be one of the most-discussed debuts of 2018! Recommended By Lauren P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Now a National Bestseller
"Religion, politics, and love collide in this slim but powerful novel reminiscent of Donna Tartt's The Secret History, with menace and mystery lurking in every corner." People Magazine
"The most buzzed-about debut of the summer, as it should be...unusual and enticing...The Incendiaries arrives at precisely the right moment." The Washington Post
"Radiant...A dark, absorbing story of how first love can be as intoxicating and dangerous as religious fundamentalism." New York Times Book Review
A powerful, darkly glittering novel of violence, love, faith, and loss, as a young woman at an elite American university is drawn into a cult's acts of terrorism.
Phoebe Lin and Will Kendall meet in 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 drawn into a secretive cult founded by a charismatic former student with an enigmatic past. When the group commits a violent act in the name of faith, Will finds himself struggling to confront a new version of the fanaticism he's worked so hard to escape. Haunting and intense, The Incendiaries is a fractured love story that explores what can befall those who lose what they love most.
"Kwon's multi-faceted narrative portrays America's dark, radical strain, exploring the lure of fundamentalism, our ability to be manipulated, and what can happen when we're willing to do anything for a cause." Atlantic.com
"[With] a fairy-tale quality reminiscent of Donna Tartt's The Secret History...[The Incendiaries is] the rare depiction of belief that doesn't kill the thing it aspires to by trying too hard. It makes a space, and then steps away to let the mystery in." The New Yorker
"A singular version of the campus novel...a story about spiritual uncertainty and about the fierce and undisciplined desire of [Kwon's] young characters to find something luminous to light their way through their lives." NPR's "Fresh Air"
"Kwon is a writer of many talents, and The Incendiaries is a debut of dark, startling beauty." San Francisco Chronicle
About the Author
R. O. Kwon is a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow. Her writing is published or forthcoming in the New York Times, New York, The Guardian, Vice, Buzzfeed, Time, Noon, Electric Literature, Playboy, and elsewhere. Born in South Korea, she has lived most of her life in the United States.