Riverhead. May 2024. 224p. ISBN 9780593190029. $28. F
Kwon’s follow-up to The Incendiaries provides a glimpse inside the lives and marriage of Philip and his artist/photographer wife, Jin. After the two meet ballet dancer Lidija at a party, Jin and Lidija forge a friendship that deepens as Jin confides the difficulties in her marriage. Jin and Lidija soon begin an affair, with Lidija as the dominatrix in their BDSM relationship. Interspersed within this story are chapters that eerily relay the words of a Korean kiaseng (akin to a geisha), telling of her enslavement at the age of six and later of her own desires with a woman lover. Kwon specifically touches upon the fetishized perception of Asian women in society and, as in her previous novel, dissects the lives of a couple in conflict, where a third party becomes a divisive threat. She explores themes of traditional and nontraditional love, marriage, and parenthood. Race, culture, and identity are also addressed, especially when readers later learn that Philip’s birth name was Felipe, and he grew up speaking Spanish.
VERDICT Fragmented chapters, as is Kwon’s style, might make this novel a challenging read for some, but the work offers much for book groups and individuals to ponder.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing