In her remarkable and insightful new collection of short stories, Roxane Gay makes it clear that being a "difficult" woman carries no shame. Her characters are painted as complicated, strong, beautiful, flawed and very, very real. Hauntingly raw and powerfully written, the stories range from realistic to fantastic, but are all unfailingly rooted in a relatable humanity. An engineer tries to find her place in foreign and frigid Upper Michigan. A woman made of glass struggles with her husband's careful version of love. A mother is separated from her son after a new civil war divides America. These women struggle with pain, forgiveness, grief, love, and acceptance, and they have stayed with me long after I finished reading.
January 2017 Indie Next List
“A 'difficult woman' has become shorthand for one who speaks her mind, who questions patriarchal power, and who refuses to be defined by a standard of femininity. The women who populate Gay's story collection are all difficult in their own ways -- mothers, sisters, lovers, some married and some single, most of flesh and one of glass -- yet they are all searching for understanding, for identity, and for ways to make sense of a sometimes nonsensical, cruel world. Some of Gay's stories are graphic, some are allegorical, and all are important commentaries on what being female looks and feels like in modern America.”
— Bex Gilmer (W), Bloomsbury Books, Ashland, OR
Award-winning author and powerhouse talent Roxane Gay burst onto the scene with An Untamed State and the New York Times bestselling essay collection Bad Feminist (Harper Perennial). Gay returns with Difficult Women, a collection of stories of rare force and beauty, of hardscrabble lives, passionate loves, and quirky and vexed human connection. The women in these stories live lives of privilege and of poverty, are in marriages both loving and haunted by past crimes or emotional blackmail. A pair of sisters, grown now, have been inseparable ever since they were abducted together as children, and must negotiate the elder sister's marriage. A woman married to a twin pretends not to realize when her husband and his brother impersonate each other. A stripper putting herself through college fends off the advances of an overzealous customer. A black engineer moves to Upper Michigan for a job and faces the malign curiosity of her colleagues and the difficulty of leaving her past behind. From a girls' fight club to a wealthy subdivision in Florida where neighbors conform, compete, and spy on each other, Gay delivers a wry, beautiful, haunting vision of modern America reminiscent of Merritt Tierce, Jamie Quatro, and Miranda July.
About the Author
Roxane Gay is the author of the novel An Untamed State, which was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction; the essay collection Bad Feminist; Ayiti, a multi-genre collection; and the memoir Hunger, forthcoming from Harper. She is at work on a memoir, Hunger, and a comic book in Marvel's Black Panther series. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, A Public Space, McSweeney's, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, West Branch, Virginia Quarterly Review, NOON, the New York Times, the Guardian, Bookforum, Time, the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Rumpus, Salon, and many others. She is a recipient of the PEN Center USA Freedom to Write Award, among other honors. She splits her time between Indiana and Los Angeles.