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Book review: The Incendiaries — by R.O. Kwon

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Posted on July 30, 2018 |
By Jenny Lyons



Book Review.jpg

(Riverhead Books)

“The Incendiaries” is a God-haunted, willful, strange book written with a kind of savage elegance,” said Lauren Groff, author of “Fates and Furies and Florida.” “The Incendiaries” was named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by numerous sources, including the New York Times, Vanity Fair, PBS and the BBC, so adding it to your must-read list, if you like to stay current with contemporary literature, is a must. Structurally, the novel is laid out in a straightforward fashion–alternating narratives by the three main protagonists, Phoebe, Will and John Leal. Phoebe and Will meet at their prestigious college; theirs is a story of opposites attract. Will is working to get through college, recently divested from her Christian upbringing, and Phoebe is the blessed girl — wealthy, a musical prodigy, but haunted by the loss of her mother. John Leal is the charismatic head of a religious and political movement, a cult, and Phoebe is his perfect mark. The shocking incidents that occur in the book expose both the provoked and the unprovoked actions and reactions of human beings hounded by anguish, aching to alleviate their pain/shame/guilt/hate. This debut novel is itself incendiary.

— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.

 

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