R. O. Kwon

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R. O. Kwon is an American author who was born in South Korea. In 2018, she published her nationally bestselling[1] debut novel The Incendiaries with Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Early life[edit]

Kwon was born in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to L.A. with her family when she was three.[2] She was raised in a Christian household but at the age of 17 experienced a crisis of faith and stopped believing in God.

She attended Yale University.[3]


Kwon's work has appeared in publications including The New York Times,[4] The Guardian,[5] The Paris Review,[6] BuzzFeed,[7] Vice,[8] New York Magazine's The Cut,[9] and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts,[10] Yaddo,[11] and MacDowell.[12]

In 2018, Kwon published her debut novel,The Incendiaries, about a woman who becomes involved with a cult of extremist Christians. The novel was inspired by Kwon's own loss of faith in God, and it took her 10 years to finish.[13][14][15] The Incendiaries was named a best book of the year by over 40 publications and organizations,[16][17] including the Today Show, NPR, BuzzFeed, The Atlantic, PBS Books, Entertainment Weekly, Vulture, and elsewhere. Before the book's release, Kwon was called one of "4 writers to watch" by The New York Times.[18] The Incendiaries is an American Booksellers Association Indie Next #1 Great Read[19] and an American Booksellers Association Indies Introduce Pick.[20] The novel is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award for Best First Book,[21] Los Angeles Times First Book Prize,[22] and Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Fiction Prize.[23] In addition, the book has been nominated for the American Library Association Carnegie Medal[24] and Aspen Prize.[25]

Personal life[edit]

In November 2018 Kwon revealed that she is bisexual.[26]


  1. ^ "The Indie Bestseller List". Authorlink. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  2. ^ Kwon, R.O. "The Mistake I Made at 'Crazy Rich Asians'". A Cup Of Jo. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  3. ^ Han, Jimin. "Interview with R.O. Kwon, Author of The Incendiaries". Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  4. ^ Kwon, R. O. (2019-03-23). "Opinion | Stop Calling Asian Women Adorable". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-06.
  5. ^ Kwon, R. O. (2017-06-29). "Blind Spot by Teju Cole review – a writer's photographs". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  6. ^ Kwon, R. O. (2019-01-07). "On Being a Woman in America While Trying to Avoid Being Assaulted". The Paris Review. Retrieved 2019-03-16.
  7. ^ Kwon, R.O. "I'm Korean American, And I Can't Watch The Pyeongchang Olympics". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  8. ^ Kwon, R. O. (2017-09-25). "The Clown from 'IT' Reminded Me of God, and I Loved Him". Vice. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  9. ^ Kwon, R.O. (6 April 2018). ""Why I Always Wear Black Eyeshadow"". The Cut.
  10. ^ "R. O. Kwon". NEA. 2018-05-30. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  11. ^ "Writers". Yaddo. 2016-09-11. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  12. ^ "2017 MacDowell Fellows Announced". PublishersWeekly.com. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  13. ^ Fassler, Joe. "A Writer's Fixation on Sound". Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  14. ^ Beckley, Sarah. "Novelist R.O. Kwon on Losing Her Religion". Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  15. ^ Winnette, Colin. "Grief That Drives: R.O. Kwon by Colin Winnette - BOMB Magazine". bombmagazine.org. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  16. ^ "The Incendiaries by R. O. Kwon | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books". PenguinRandomhouse.com. Retrieved 2019-03-16.
  17. ^ ""At the Center": Interview with R.O. Kwon". Indiana Review. 2019-03-02. Retrieved 2019-03-16.
  18. ^ de León, Concepción (2018-06-09). "4 Writers to Watch This Summer". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  19. ^ Button, Liz (2018-07-16). "A Q&A With R.O. Kwon, Author of August's #1 Indie Next List Pick". the American Booksellers Association. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  20. ^ "Indies Introduce Summer Fall 2018". the American Booksellers Association. Retrieved 2018-12-29.
  21. ^ "National Book Critics Circle: Announcing the Finalists for the John Leonard Award for Best First Book - Critical Mass Blog". www.bookcritics.org. Retrieved 2018-12-29.
  22. ^ Schaub, Michael. "L.A. Times Book Prize finalists include Michelle Obama and Susan Orlean; Terry Tempest Williams receives lifetime achievement award". latimes.com. Retrieved 2019-03-16.
  23. ^ "Book Awards". Northern California Independent Booksellers Association. Retrieved 2019-03-16.
  24. ^ "Andrew Carnegie Medals Longlist | Awards & Grants". www.ala.org. Retrieved 2018-12-29.
  25. ^ "Exclusive: 'Friday Black,' 'There There' And More Longlisted For Aspen Words Prize". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-12-29.
  26. ^ Rich, Kaelyn. "Korean-American Bestselling Author R.O. Kwon Is Bisexual, Has Flawless Signature Eyeshadow". Autostraddle. Retrieved 10 November 2018.

External links[edit]