Roxane Gay: A Night of “Startling Contrasts”

~post by Katie P.

Roxane Gay is both a product of her time and timeless. When she stopped by BookPeople to celebrate the release of her latest novel, An Untamed State, RGay (as  she’s known on Twitter) engaged her audience in an excellent, thorough discussion that included both celebrity gossip (Solange and Jay-Z did what??) and analysis of Haitian political instability and the use of kidnappings and “disappearings” in that country that have ravaged its sense of security and self.

Into the meeting of these two worlds fits Gay’s novel itself, which is told in the first person by an American-Haitian woman kidnapped whilst visiting her parents in Port-au-Prince. This topic seems an entire world apart from entertainment news and juicy gossip, but what ties everything together, what reminds us that while we are reading tabloids, some part of the world is burning, is Gay herself. Her social commentary, which is on full display on her Twitter account and in her nonfiction writing for The Rumpus and Salon, is razor-sharp, and her gift for close observation make both her work and her conversation compelling.

As she chatted with the audience during and after her event, RGay moved easily between topics both mundane and extraordinary, superficial and profound. Gay, who is Haitian, describes the country as full of “startling contrasts.” Her evening at BookPeople was also full of contrasts, but they were not startling so much as informative and powerful.

Roxane Gay’s next book, a collection of essays called Bad Feminist, comes out this fall. We hope to see her back at BookPeople for another night of conversation, laughter, and reading!


An Untamed State by Roxane Gay is available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com, where you can also pre-order copies of Bad Feminist.Looking for some summer reads until the release of Bad Feminist? Roxane left behind some book recommendations for us!

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