Pigeon Pages Interview
with R. O. Kwon


Do you have a bird story or favorite feathered friend?

I don't have any pets, though I badly want one. Instead, for now, a preferred Friday-night activity for me and my husband consists of sharing a bottle of wine and going wild by… watching animals online. For instance, have you ever seen a cockatoo dance? If not, try googling “cockatoo dancing”: It’s fucking glorious.

What is your most memorable reading experience?

There are so many! A book I recently really loved is Miriam Toews’s Women Talking, a novel set in a Mennonite colony. I was transfixed, angry, sad, astonished, and so deeply moved. It’s not quite like anything I’ve ever read.

What makes you most excited about The Incendiaries?

I really love hearing from readers who have complicated relationships with faith, or who have left a faith. I felt so alone when I left Christianity, and still do, in a lot of ways. It means a lot to be able to both provide and find a bit of fellowship.

To tweet or not to tweet?

Whatever works for you, truly.

What books do you have in your bag right now?

Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift and Mary Laura Philpott's I Miss You When I Blink.

Can you tell us your favorite rejection story?

I have too many to pick a favorite.

What literary journals do you love?

Here, too, there are so many. One magazine that’s meant a lot to me over the years is NOON, a haven for sentence enthusiasts.

What shakes your tail feathers?

Lately, Robyn! Janelle Monáe!

What advice do you have for fledgling writers?

Read widely, deeply, often. Read poetry. Plays, too. Read marginalized voices. Read in translation.

What other eggs do you have in your basket right now?

I’m working on my second novel, which is about two artists, a photographer who becomes obsessed with a choreographer, first professionally, then more personally. I’m very interested, with these two women, in exploring questions of ambition and desire.


R.O. Kwon’s nationally bestselling first novel, The Incendiaries, was published in 2018 by Riverhead. The book is an American Booksellers Association Indie Next #1 Pick and Indies Introduce selection, and it was named a best book of the year by over forty publications. The novel is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award for Best First Book, Los Angeles Times First Book Prize, and Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Fiction Prize. Her writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Paris Review, Vice, BuzzFeed, Noon, Time, and elsewhere. Kwon has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Yaddo, and MacDowell.