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Roxane Gay

Author of Bad Feminist: Essays

34+ Works 10,128 Members 427 Reviews 17 Favorited

About the Author

Roxane Gay is the New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist: Essays, the novel An Untamed State, the story collection Ayiti, and her memoir, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. Her work has also appeared in Glamour, Best American Short Stories, and the New York Times Book Review. She won the PEN show more Center USA's 2015 Freedom to Write Award. The annual award is presented to individuals or organisations for 'producing notable work in the face of extreme adversity' or showing 'exceptional courage in the defense of free expression. In 2018, she was presented the Trustee Award for Excellence in Literature by the Lambda Literery Awards. She also won the Bisexual Nonfiction award for her memoir Hunger. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
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Works by Roxane Gay

Bad Feminist: Essays (2014) 3,432 copies
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (2017) 2,268 copies
Difficult Women (2017) 1,195 copies
An Untamed State (2014) 981 copies
Ayiti (2011) 381 copies
The Best American Short Stories 2018 (2018) — Editor — 264 copies
The Selected Works of Audre Lorde (2020) — Editor — 183 copies
Opinions (2023) 113 copies
The Sacrifice of Darkness (2020) 111 copies
Graceful Burdens (2020) 59 copies
The Banks (2019) — Writer — 56 copies
Urgent, Unheard Stories (2015) 48 copies

Associated Works

The Best American Short Stories 2012 (2012) — Contributor — 362 copies
Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World (2017) — Contributor — 264 copies
Kink: Stories (2021) — Contributor — 214 copies
Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer (2010) — Contributor — 133 copies
The Best American Mystery Stories 2014 (2014) — Contributor — 93 copies
First Person Queer: Who We Are (So Far) (2007) — Contributor — 92 copies
Pen and Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them (2014) — Contributor — 74 copies
The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2018 (2018) — Contributor — 68 copies
Double Bind: Women on Ambition (2017) — Contributor — 68 copies
Best Lesbian Erotica 2002 (2002) — Contributor — 66 copies
Best Bisexual Women's Erotica (2001) — Contributor — 66 copies
Best Lesbian Erotica 2003 (2002) — Contributor — 57 copies
Zombies: More Recent Dead (2014) — Contributor — 56 copies
The New Black: A Neo-Noir Anthology (2014) — Contributor — 52 copies
Best Lesbian Erotica 2005 (2004) — Contributor — 51 copies
Haiti Noir 2: The Classics (2013) — Contributor — 43 copies
Take Us to a Better Place: Stories (2018) — Foreword — 33 copies
Brief Encounters: A Collection of Contemporary Nonfiction (2015) — Contributor — 31 copies
Fucking Daphne: Mostly True Stories and Fictions (2008) — Contributor — 25 copies
All in the Seasoning (2002) — Contributor — 20 copies
The Best Of Both Worlds: Bisexual Erotica (2005) — Contributor — 19 copies
Best Actress: The History of Oscar®-Winning Women (2019) — Foreword, some editions — 17 copies
早稲田文学増刊 女性号 (2017) — Contributor — 1 copy


2015 (51) 2017 (76) 2018 (49) adult (47) African American (42) American literature (49) anthology (175) audiobook (64) autobiography (42) body image (53) ebook (146) erotica (81) essays (501) feminism (584) feminist (42) fiction (470) gender (64) goodreads (59) graphic novel (70) Haiti (71) Kindle (140) lesbian (52) memoir (331) non-fiction (833) poetry (43) politics (52) pop culture (77) race (54) racism (45) rape (116) read (124) read in 2017 (51) read in 2018 (51) short stories (381) signed (40) to-read (1,866) unread (77) USA (44) women (99) women's studies (42)

Common Knowledge



Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist in Reading Books by Women (August 2016)
Bad Feminist in Feminist Theory (January 2015)


The theme of fairy tales, and the subversion of that theme, runs throughout Roxane Gay's debut novel, An Untamed State. American-born Mireille is visiting Haiti, where her parents are from and where they've returned in their later years, with her husband and newborn son. They're just leaving the gated compound where her family lives when they're suddenly accosted by kidnappers and Mireille is taken. They demand $1 million for her return, and she's held for 13 days before ransom is paid. During those 13 days, she's brutally raped and tortured, and the woman she is when she's released is a world away from the woman she was before.

We learn about her life through the memories she experiences while she's captive. How she grew up, watching her talented father chafe against the ways in which he was treated as "lesser than" because of his status as an immigrant. Her relationship with her siblings, especially her sister. The way she and her husband Michael met and fell in love. Their privileged life together in Miami, where she's an immigration attorney and he's an engineer. And then when she gets back, how very unable she is to resume that life. The second half of the novel relates Mireille's flight to Michael's family farm in Nebraska to heal...or more accurately, recover enough to be able to deal. The wounds she's suffered aren't the kind that really heal, after all.

The motif of fairy tales is everywhere, from the beginning, where the book literally opens with "once upon a time", to the end, in which Mireille is given the chance to confront one of her captors. When I first read it, the ending bothered me. It seemed too convenient, to tie things up too neatly. Life doesn't work that way, and otherwise the book is deeply, unflinchingly realistic. When you think about it through the context of fairy tales, though, it has that kind of wish fulfillment that the modern versions of these stories often do. But the bulk of the story is filled with the things that get cut out of the tales for today's world: the violence inflicted on Mireille is completely unvarnished and it is very difficult to read.

And that difficulty of reading is the only reason I'm not more enthusiastic about this novel. Roxane Gay is a phenomenal writer and the book is compelling and hard to put down. She draws realistic, captivating characters who have shades of gray and consistent internal logic, and the way she subverts Mireille's "fairy tale" narrative of her life with Michael by showing us its sometimes-ugly underbelly is brilliant. I could go on forever about how incredibly-written it is. But with the subject matter being what it is, it's hard to recommend this book widely. There's a great deal of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. If that's something you're able to handle, I'd definitely recommend it.
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ghneumann | 47 other reviews | Jun 14, 2024 |
I’ve always enjoyed Roxane Gay’s writing, but this was the first time I’d read the essay collection that was a big deal a few years ago. I absolutely loved this book, she is so funny and smart and insightful.
ghneumann | 137 other reviews | Jun 14, 2024 |
Roxane Gay is brilliant, readable and important in the struggles for women and blacks and I whipped through her book, yet I grew weary and dejected just as she did telling her tragic story. Her writing does spur one on even if there is a swathe of hopelessness about her recovering from the gang rape suffered at twelve. Yet I kept reading, fascinated by the depth of her confessions and laying bare of her pain and loneliness, and her self-understanding. It's what we're encouraged to do in memoir but how difficult it is.

"I do not want pity or appreciation or advice. I am not brave or heroic. I am not strong. I am not special. I am one woman who has experienced something countless women have experienced. I am a victim who survived."
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featherbooks | 119 other reviews | May 7, 2024 |
This was a tough read emotionally - I had to take breaks. But this book is important. Everyone should read it, if they can handle it.
stitchcastermage | 17 other reviews | Apr 26, 2024 |



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