The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon

Staff Pick

An unsettling debut novel from R.O. Kwon, The Incendiaries (Riverhead, $26) taps into the motivations that drive extremism and obsession. Set in a secluded private school, it follows the relationship between Phoebe, a former piano prodigy with a tragic past, and Will, a lapsed evangelical who has abandoned his faith. Their romance gets complicated by the machinations of John Leal, a cult leader whose religious fervor stems from his supposed stint in a North Korean labor camp. Feeling increasingly isolated, Phoebe gets drawn into the web of Leal’s cult, while Will becomes fixated on her. Through her deft handling of perspective, Kwon chronicles the ebb and tide of their relationship. She develops an uneasy atmosphere through spare and evocative description, using ambiguity to deny any easy resolution. Instead, she probes the emotional limitations that keep people from truly understanding each other.

The Incendiaries: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735213890
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Riverhead Books - July 31st, 2018

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