Téa Obreht

in conversation with R.O. Kwon

Recorded May 30th, 2020

Share this event

Find the books at Book Passage

Log in or register to watch the archive.

Téa Obreht in conversation with R.O. Kwon
Saturday, May 30, 2020

Share this with someone who loves books.

Téa Obreht’s new novel, Inland: A Novel, is an imaginatively mythic journey across the American West that was named one of the best books of the 2019 by publications including Time, The Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal  and BookPage.

Her first novel, The Tiger’s Wife, was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction. An international bestseller, it has sold over a million copies worldwide, with rights sold in 37 countries.

Téa was a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree and was named by The New Yorker as one of the twenty best American fiction writers under forty. She was the 2013 Rona Jaffe Foundation fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers and was a recipient of the 2016 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.

She was born in Belgrade, in the former Yugoslavia, in 1985 and has lived in the United States since the age of twelve. She currently lives in New York City and teaches at Hunter College.

R.O. Kwon’s nationally bestselling first novel, The Incendiaries, is being translated into seven languages. Named a best book of the year by over forty publications, The Incendiaries received the Housatonic Book Award and was a finalist or nominated for seven other prizes, including the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award for Best First Book and Los Angeles Times First Book Prize. Kwon’s next novel, as well as an essay collection, are forthcoming.

R.O’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Paris Review, NPR, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Yaddo, MacDowell, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Born in Seoul, Kwon has lived most of her life in the United States.

We go forward a little bit and then we fall back. We make some progress but also revert in these horrific ways to things we’ve been fighting against for hundreds of years.”

– Tea Obrcht, Interview, The Guardian, 08.24.2019

Téa Obreht was born in Belgrade, in the former Yugoslavia, and grew up in Cyprus and Egypt before eventually immigrating to the United States.

Her debut novel, The Tiger’s Wife, won the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction, and was a 2011 National Book Award finalist and an international bestseller.  Her work has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Non-Required Reading, and has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Vogue, Esquire and Zoetrope: All-Story, among many others.

She was the recipient of the Rona Jaffe fellowship from the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, and a 2016 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She was a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree, and was named by The New Yorker as one of the twenty best American fiction writers under forty. She lives in New York with her husband, and teaches at Hunter College.

R.O. Kwon’s nationally bestselling first novel, The Incendiaries, is being translated into seven languages. Named a best book of the year by over forty publications, The Incendiaries received the Housatonic Book Award and was a finalist or nominated for seven other prizes, including the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award for Best First Book and Los Angeles Times First Book Prize. Kwon’s next novel, as well as an essay collection, are forthcoming.

R.O’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Paris Review, NPR, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Yaddo, MacDowell, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Born in Seoul, Kwon has lived most of her life in the United States.

Visit the Book Passage website to have any of Téa’s books delivered right to your door.

You’re sure to enjoy these Book Passage favorites:

Inland: A Novel

Inland, A Novel

The Tiger's Wife

The Tiger's Wife

Get ready to join Téa in conversation, Saturday May 30th.

In the meantime, we invite you to take a moment now to help shape this upcoming conversation.

Check out the list of questions submitted by other registered attendees, and then vote to support any that match your interests.
Feel free to add your own question. Then spread the word to make sure others have the chance to help move your question to the top of the shared list.

  • 5

    votes

    I was dazzled by the depth of authenticity in both setting and dialogue in Inland. How on earth did you get that close to and familiar with the culture and mores and dialect of that part of the US old west?

  • 3

    votes

    Two themes in both Nora and Lurie’s stories are water and sprints of the dead. Can you speak to these two themes and how they unique and meaningful to both stories?

  • 3

    votes

    What kind of research did you have to do to write INLAND? What was the most surprising thing you learned?

  • 3

    votes

    Who are some of your favorite authors, whether fiction or non-fiction, and have they influenced your writing?

  • 2

    votes

    Pandemics. Riots. Police brutality. What do you both think about what’s happening today? What do you think your role as a writer of “fiction” in relation to what’s happening in the world around us?

  • 2

    votes

    Can you describe what you read, or what movies you watched, to give you a sense of life in the west?

  • 2

    votes

    Why did you choose Arizona Territory over other Western areas for your story?

  • 1

    votes

    It’s so great to hear your voices–and the voices of so many other people who might not have had a chance to make a career as writers only a generation ago. What do you think about being a writer in America now? Do you think of yourselves as “American” writers? What does that mean today?

  • 1

    votes

    What inspired you to write a Western?

  • 0

    votes

    Maybe a silly question, but have always been curious — how do you both name your characters?

  • 0

    votes

    On the one hand, life on the frontier allowed gender roles to be bent — often out of necessity — and yet at the same time gender frequently came into play. How did you think about gender as you wrote the novel? To what degree do you think you were grounded in notions of gender from the time versus contemporary notions of gender?