The F Word: Roxane Gay
Roxane Gay’s essay ‘Bad Feminist’ was described by the Guardian as ‘the most persuasive feminist recruitment drive in recent memory’: she argues for embracing the values of feminism, while admitting her own contradictions and imperfections as a feminist.
Her book of the same name – a vibrant, provocative, thoughtful collection of essays that blend pop culture, memoir, and politics – is similarly complex and nuanced. Gay, a creative writing professor, brilliantly blends high and low culture in her work: her essay on The Hunger Games is also a reflection on female strength and surviving trauma, and she eviscerates mainstream American culture’s lingering racism through critiques of films like The Help and Django Unchained. She draws on the personal throughout, but always with a purpose. ‘I’ll show you my bloody guts, but there’s going to be, hopefully, a larger purpose to the writing,’ she says.
The Haitian-American writer has also been a driving force in agitating to raise the profile of writers of colour, conducting a count of the books reviewed by leading publications. And her debut novel, An Untamed State, about a brutal kidnapping in Haiti and its gruelling aftermath, has been hailed as ‘riveting … smart, searing’ by the Washington Post.
Meet one of America’s most engaging new literary voices in conversation with Maxine Beneba Clarke. Their wide-ranging conversation covers inclusive approaches to feminism and activism, as well as the role of race, history and power in informing An Untamed State.
Roxane Gay is the author of the novel An Untamed State, Bad Feminist: Essays and the story collection Ayiti. Her work has also appeared in Glamour, Best American Short Stories, and the New York Times Book Review. She is the co-editor of PANK.
Maxine Beneba Clarke is an Australian writer and slam poet of Afro-Caribbean descent. Her short fiction collection Foreign Soil won the 2013 Victorian Premier's Unpublished Manuscript Award, the 2015 Indie Award for Debut Fiction, and the 2016 ABIA Award for Best Literary Fiction. Her latest poetry collection Carrying The World (Hachette) was released in May 2016, and her memoir The Hate Race (Hachette) will be published in August 2016. She writes for the Saturday Paper.