R.F. Kuang

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R.F. Kuang
Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
EducationOdyssey Writing Workshop,
University of Cambridge
Alma materGeorgetown University
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese

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Rebecca F. Kuang (born 1996) is a Chinese-American fantasy writer.[1]


She emigrated to the United States from Guangzhou, China, with her family when she was four years old.[2][3] Kuang's father grew up in Leiyang, in Hunan province; her mother grew up on Hainan Island.[4] Her mother's father fought for Chiang Kai-shek.[4] Her father's family experienced the Japanese conquest of Hunan.[4][5]

Kuang grew up in Dallas, Texas and graduated from the Greenhill School in 2013.[6] She went on to Georgetown University, attracted by the college's well-known debating team.[2] Halfway through college, Kuang was 19 when she began writing Poppy War during a gap year in China, where she worked as a debate coach; the book was published when she was 22.[2][7] Kuang graduated from the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2016 and attended the CSSF Novel Writing Workshop in 2017.[3] She graduated from Georgetown's School of Foreign Service in June 2018. She spent the summer after graduation coaching a debate camp in Colorado.[4][2][7]

She is atttending the University of Cambridge as a recipient of a 2018 Marshall Scholarship, where she plans to pursue a Master of Philosophy in Chinese Studies.[1][7]

Her debut novel The Poppy War, a Chinese military fantasy, was published by Harper Voyager in 2018 and is the first book in a planned trilogy.[8] The Poppy War has received mainly favorable reviews, with Publishers Weekly calling it "a strong and dramatic launch to Kuang’s career".[9]

As of May 2018, the draft of Kuang's second book is finished.[10]

The Poppy War[edit]

The Poppy War, a grimdark fantasy, draws its plot and politics from mid-20th-century China,[11][12][13] with the conflict in the novel based on the Second Sino-Japanese War, and an atmosphere inspired by the Song dynasty.[10] Harper Voyager’s editorial director David Pomerico acquired the novel after a heated auction on Kuang’s 20th birthday.[11][14] The novel centers on a poor orphan Rin who trains in secret to test into the elite Sinegard Academy.[15] Kuang said Rin’s life is meant to parallel the trajectory of Mao Zedong.[16] Grounded in the real-world history of Chinese wars and adding a fantasy drug element inspired by the Opium Wars,[10] The Poppy War is a dark and fatalistic tale of warfare.[17] When a conflict surfaces between the Nikara Empire and their neighboring nation, Mugen, Rin is called to the front lines. She must decide whether to make a deal with the gods to unleash her shamanic powers. Her decision may change the war but result in the loss of her humanity.[14] Kuang wrote The Poppy War while teaching debate in China and graduated with a degree in Chinese History from Georgetown University a few days after its release.[11] Her studies in Chinese military strategy and collective trauma inspired her to write the novel.[8][3] She said, "I chose to write a fantasy reinterpretation of China's twentieth century, because that was the kind of story I wasn't finding on bookshelves".[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Georgetown Author R.F. Kuang Speaks on Upcoming Novel 'The Poppy War'". 2017-12-10. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Randall, Kayla (20 July 1018). "How a Georgetown Student Published Her Epic Fantasy Debut—Before She Turned 22". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "R. F. Kuang". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Kidd, James (25 July 2018). "China's bloody history and Game of Thrones-style fantasy unite in author R.F. Kuang's debut novel". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  5. Junzhou, Qiu; Shilong, Yang (7 June 2018). "Feature: Young Chinese American writer tells forgotten WWII history in fantasy setting". Xinhua. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  6. "Alumna Rebecca Kuang '13 Awarded 2018 Marshall Scholarship". Greenhill School. 5 September 2017. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "First Novel in Trilogy by Recent Grad Draws on Georgetown Studies". Georgetown University publicity office. 17 July 2018. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "R.F. Kuang Stuns With Her Debut Fantasy Novel, The Poppy War". RT Book Reviews. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  9. "Fiction Book Review: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang. Harper Voyager, $26.99 (544p)". PublishersWeekly.com. ISBN 978-0-06-266256-9. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "R.F. Kuang - Interview". BookPage.com. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 "Cover Story: R.F. Kuang's The Poppy War, an Epic Debut Inspired by 20th Century China". The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog. 2018-01-11. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  12. "15 Best New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: May 2018". Nerd Much?. 2018-05-01. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  13. Mason, Everdeen (2 May 2018). "Best science fiction and fantasy books out this month (brief book review)". Washington Post. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "A Light in the Grimdark: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang". Tor.com. 2018-05-02. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  15. "The 12 gripping science fiction and fantasy novels you need to check out this May". The Verge. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  16. "R. F. Kuang Interview – The Poppy War «  Fantasy-Faction". fantasy-faction.com. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  17. Nam, Michael. "'The Poppy War' book review: A magical, brutal coming-of-age tale in a medieval Asian fantasy world - NY Daily News". nydailynews.com. Retrieved 2018-05-12.

External links[edit]

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