We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780349011882

Price: £8.99

Disclosure: If you buy products using the retailer buttons above, we may earn a commission from the retailers you visit.

‘Absolutely electric’ Garth Greenwell

‘A major talent’ Financial Times

‘Reminiscent of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History
New Yorker

Phoebe Lin and Will Kendall fall in love at 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 from Bible college.

But a charismatic former student draws Phoebe into his cult – an extremist group with secretive ties to North Korea. 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, discovering how far we can go when we lose what we love.

‘An important new writer’ The Times

‘R. O. Kwon is the real deal’ Lauren Groff


Radiant . . . a dark, absorbing story of how first love can be as intoxicating and dangerous as religious fundamentalism . . .
New York Times Book Review
Faith and its furies lie at the heart of The Incendiaries, R. O. Kwon's disarmingly propulsive debut . . . It's a combustive tale about the human compulsion to latch onto something bigger than ourselves, no matter the cost
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 debut novel from the Korean-American writer RO Kwon starts with a bomb attack carried out by an extremist Christian cult. Will Kendall knows his former girlfriend, Phoebe Lin, was one of the perpetrators; what plays out in this short, sharp tale is the story of why . . . When Phoebe is approached by John Leal, a barefoot preacher who claims to have been a prisoner in a North Korean gulag, she believes he offers the purpose and discipline she has lost. But Will, struggling to come to terms with the loss of his Christian faith, sees through Leal. This triumvirate of flawed characters share the narrative focus as events spiral towards their bloody denouement - and Kwon's spare, scalpel-like writing makes Phoebe's tumble into Leal's crazed vision utterly convincing
The Times
A pulsating, hypnotic debut novel . . . Kwon's subject is not so much love and betrayal - though both forces are presented as elementally destructive - as the power of religion, and the grieving that engulfs those who lose faith. She understands what a believer will do to retain her sense of belonging, to never be lonely again . . . The Incendiaries packs a disruptive charge, and introduces RO Kwon as a major talent
Financial Times
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)
This debut novel is absolutely electric, something new in the firmament. Everyone should read this book
Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You
The Incendiaries is a book of careful feints - the emphases in the story never fall where you expect, but Kwon is always in total control . . . a startlingly assured book by an important new writer
Guardian, Book of the Day
Fairy-tale quality reminiscent of Donna Tartt's The Secret History
New Yorker
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
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
An exquisitely written novel about love, loss and faith taken to extremes
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
Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation
The Incendiaries is the most buzzed about debut of the summer, as it should be . . . [it] is a sharp, little novel as hard to ignore as a splinter in your eye . . . In a nation still so haunted by the divine promise, on the cusp of ever-more contentious debates about abortion and other intrinsically spiritual issues, The Incendiaries arrives at precisely the right moment
Washington Post
What an intriguing novel. Told in spare, revealing prose from the three central characters' points of view, it makes the reader look again at faith, fanaticism and identity
Daily Mail
A classic love triangle between two tormented college students and God. The Incendiaries brings us, page by page, from quiet reckonings with shame and intimacy to a violent, grand tragedy. In a conflagration of lyrical prose, R. O. Kwon skillfully evokes the inherent extremism of young love
Tony Tulathimutte, author of Private Citizens
R. O. Kwon's characters leave you unsure of where reality stands in a narrative that is beautifully disorienting. As each retreats further into their own mind, the language becomes more jarring, and the logic harder to follow, in a way that mimics the real-life terror of obsession
Literary Hub
A stunning debut, The Incendiaries is a story of interpersonal and religious devotion . . . It's a discomforting yet thoroughly engrossing read about processing trauma and changing ideals at the precipice of adulthood and the overwhelming power of conviction. After this impressive introduction of her work to the world, we're excited to see where Kwon takes us in the future
Marie Claire
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