Angry Reader of the Week: R.O. Kwon

"I write. I read. I fantasize about cheese, which I fucking love."

Photo: Smeeta Mahanti

Greetings, good people of the internet! It is time, once again, to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is R.O. Kwon.

Who are you?

R.O. Kwon.

What are you?

A writer, primarily a novelist. My first novel, The Incendiaries, is about a Korean American woman who gets involved with a group of radical Christians: it turns out to be a cult with ties to North Korea, and they end up bombing health-care clinics, abortion clinics, in the name of faith. The book's coming out in paperback on 7/30.

Where are you?

I live in San Francisco, but I've been traveling a lot for my novel. In the next few months, I'll have book-related events in Corte Madera, Chicago, New York, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, L.A., Ripton, New Bedford, D.C., Fairfax, Germany, and Switzerland!

Where are you from?

I was born in Seoul, and grew up in L.A., in a town so predominantly Asian that, at my public high school, a Korean language class was offered as an elective.

What do you do?

I write. I read. I fantasize about cheese, which I fucking love. I'm also very allergic to cheese, which means that, before eating any cheese, I load up on antihistamines and anti-inflammatories and Lactaid. Which is a lot, but it's worth it.

What are you all about?

On the one hand, writing is a private, solitary act: when I'm deep in it, I have almost no space to think about anything other than what's happening on the word level, from one syllable to the next.

On the other hand, I'm very conscious, and I want and hope to always be conscious, of how lucky I've been, and how important it is to try to pass along some of that luck. Especially to other marginalized people and writers, who often have more of a struggle to be heard. Especially to people of color, to women and nonbinary people, to Asian people, to my fellow Koreans.

I love what Toni Morrison said about the importance of passing along luck: "I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.'" Isn't that good? She's so good.

What makes you angry?

I've been thinking a lot about this. I get really angry when people lose sight of the fullness of others' humanity, or when it seems they never learned. This is part of what love teaches us, right? Literature, too. It's one of the miracles of loving someone: learning, over and over again, that other people are as alive to themselves as we are to ourselves.

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