Exhibit: A Novel (Hardcover)

Exhibit: A Novel By R. O. Kwon Cover Image

Exhibit: A Novel (Hardcover)


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June 2024 Indie Next List

“There is so much in this layered 200-page gem of a novel about a pair of new artist friends — a photographer struggling through a creative block, and a successful ballerina recovering from a serious injury — and their desires. Completely absorbing.”
— Kalani Kapahua, Third Place Books (Ravenna), Seattle, WA



"Hypnotic...a haunting romance about desire, obsession, and ambition that is sure to get your heart rate up." —Time Magazine

"R.O. Kwon’s Exhibit is, hands down, the sexiest novel of the year." —Vogue

"A highly sensory experience...lingers like a mysterious, multihued bruise." The New York Times

"One of the most buzzed-about books of the year…fiery, sexual, and undeniably original." Poets & Writers

From bestselling author R. O. Kwon, an exhilarating, blazing-hot novel about a woman caught between her desires and her life.

At a lavish party in the hills outside of San Francisco, Jin Han meets Lidija Jung and nothing will ever be the same for either woman. A brilliant young photographer, Jin is at a crossroads in her work, in her marriage to her college love Philip, and in who she is and who she wants to be. Lidija is an alluring, injured world-class ballerina on hiatus from her ballet company under mysterious circumstances. Drawn to each other by their intense artistic drives, the two women talk all night.

Cracked open, Jin finds herself telling Lidija about an old familial curse, breaking a lifelong promise. She's been told that if she doesn’t keep the curse a secret, she risks losing everything; death and ruin could lie ahead. As Jin and Lidija become more entangled, they realize they share more than the ferocity of their ambition, and begin to explore hidden desires. Something is ignited in Jin: her art, her body, and her sense of self irrevocably changed. But can she avoid the specter of the curse? Vital, bold, powerful, and deeply moving, Exhibit asks: how brightly can you burn before you light your life on fire?
R. O. Kwon is the author of the nationally bestselling novel The Incendiaries, which was named a best book of the year by more than forty publications and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award. With Garth Greenwell, Kwon coedited the bestselling Kink, a New York Times Notable Book. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Yaddo, and MacDowell. Born in Seoul, Kwon has lived most of her life in the United States.
Product Details ISBN: 9780593190029
ISBN-10: 0593190025
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: May 21st, 2024
Pages: 224
Language: English
Praise for Exhibit

"A hypnotic queer love story full of lust and longing...a haunting romance about desire, obsession, and ambition that is sure to get your heart rate up." —Time Magazine

"R. O. Kwon’s Exhibit is, hands down, the sexiest novel of the year...her examination of kink, desire, shame, lust and the liminal space we enter when we finally stop denying ourselves...makes Exhibit uniquely successful and powerfully sexy." —Vogue

"Bewitching." —People Magazine

"A highly sensory experience, awash in petals and colors, smells and flavors, that adds to the literature on a proclivity much discussed and often misunderstood. It lingers like a mysterious, multihued bruise." The New York Times

"Kwon is a deeply sensual writer...The idea of a divided self, a way of half-living, defines this book. Even the meaning of the title suggests an art exhibit, of course, but also the question of what we show with our lives. What kind of story do we tell others, and more important, ourselves?"The Washington Post

"Pulses with the queer desire of Korean women, past and present." —San Francisco Chronicle

“An expansive view of the things women are punished for wanting…unflinching." —The Atlantic

“One of the most buzzed-about books of the year…fiery, sexual, and undeniably original.” —Poets & Writers
"R. O. Kwon extracts hidden, taboo desires with precision, and her hair-raising prose sizzles...Your stomach might lurch and your heart might beat faster as you enter Jin’s inner monologue of suppressed wants bursting at the seams." —KQED

"A searing study of art, desire, and bodily and intellectual freedom...Kwon's sentences are like grenades, carefully wrought and concentrated with meaning." —Shelf Awareness

"Kwon’s prose is unlike any other, sensuous and sumptuous and yet razor-sharp." —Electric Literature

"In a hypnotic, sensual stream of consciousness...Kwon explores an intimacy that grows into obsession, revealing insights into the nature of power, sexuality, and free will." —Bustle

"An exhilarating novel about being caught between the desires of the future and the specters of the past." —Nylon

"Muscular and intelligent...A bold, tough novel that invites the viewer’s gaze and stares defiantly back." —Kirkus

"Displays, in stark relief, the patterns created by what we repress, what we celebrate, and how we transform shame into joy: it’s exquisitely curated and terrifically complicated." —Chicago Review of Books

"R. O. Kwon, bless her, takes religion seriously...For Kwon, religion names experience at the border of the speakable and unspeakable, the personal and the public. Her novels understand that we lean on what renders us unsteady, that desire inhabits a realm reason can only glimpse...Kwon’s understanding of this strange relationship between belief and unbelief places her alongside, of all people, Ludwig Wittgenstein." —The Los Angeles Review of Books

“R. O. Kwon writes stunningly about the hunger for transcendence, for something larger than oneself, more encompassing than society...Exhibit feels intended to free readers. It is a novel that makes profound and singular and visible private experiences often considered askance in American fiction, when they are considered at all. The effect is of a kind of openness, a nuanced patterning of shadow and light.” Alta
“R. O. Kwon puts queer love, loss and faith on 'exhibit' in [her] new novel...The incisive mining of these inner conflicts and identity crises—how to exist in a society that expects you to be a God-fearing, family-oriented woman, when such labels no longer apply—is a throughline fearlessly explored by Kwon.” CNN
“A lyrical, sensual exploration of the relationship between two Korean American women—Jin, a photographer, and Lidija, a ballet dancer—who meet at a party and soon establish bonds both creative and sexual.” Boston Globe

“In prose at once sharp and lush, Kwon crafts a gripping tale of a woman wrestling with the past, while boldly making her own future. A haunting and powerful exploration of art, racism, feminism, and desire, this novel will stay with me a long time.”
—Madeline Miller, New York Times bestselling author of Circe and The Song of Achilles
Exhibit is sensational – a novel that's both intimate and operatic, singular and world-encompassing. Kwon's prose is soulful and piercing, chronicling the many ways we lose and find ourselves, blending love and sex and fables between the infinite folds that encompass desire. Exhibit is entirely captivating, and Kwon is truly masterful; it's a book for the mind and the heart and the body, an actual tour de force.”
—Bryan Washington, bestselling author of Family Meal and Memorial
Exhibit is extraordinary: brisk, jolting, brilliant, beautiful, true. A ghost story, a tale of passion, a captivating portrait of how art is made, it turns myths upside down, assumptions inside out, all in the most exquisite prose in the bookstore. Kwon is one of the finest American writers, and her latest is a must for all readers.”
—Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Less is Lost
"I tore through this. Exhibit explores how obliteration can be a kind of rebirth, how the nuances of that are complicated by the constraints of chosen and socially imposed identities. Kwon writes about art and ardor with urgency."
—Raven Leilani, New York Times bestselling author of Luster

"A rare jewel of a book, at once forceful and unrepentant, delicate and shimmering. R. O. Kwon carves language into a wondrous, jagged thing, revealing facets of desire usually hidden. To read Exhibit is to feel time slow down."
 —C Pam Zhang, bestselling author of How Much of These Hills Is Gold and Land of Milk and Honey