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An Untamed Stateby Roxane Gay
An Untamed State is the kind of book that just slices into you — forcing you to feel all its emotions. Gay digs deep and tells a story so searing, so awful, and so beautiful, it's hard to even describe. Set in modern day Haiti and America, this harrowing tale of a woman held captive for 13 days feels like Gay is holding your feet to the fire; the pain in these pages is palpable. However, there is redemption here; there is hope. If your reading life needs to be shaken up, if it needs an injection of real emotion, this is your book: it's both excruciating and exquisite.
Synopses & Reviews
Roxane Gay is a powerful new literary voice whose short stories and essays have already earned her an enthusiastic audience. In An Untamed State, she delivers an assured debut about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over thirteen days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.
Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti's richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her fathers Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.
An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a willful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed State establishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent.
"Poet and short story writer Gay's first novel delivers a searing portrait of a politically and economically divided Haiti, as seen through the lens of one family's nightmare. Mireille Duval Jameson, a Haitian-born young woman, is on vacation from Miami and visiting her upper-class parents in Port-au-Prince when she is kidnapped at gunpoint. Her captors regularly extract hefty ransoms from their wealthy victims, but in this case, Mireille's too-proud father refuses to pay up until it's nearly too late, resulting in his daughter suffering 13 days of increasingly savage sexual torture. When Mireille regains her freedom, it's only the first step in the shaken family's uncertain recovery. Though the opening kidnapping feels like a scene from a particularly stilted thriller, Gay soon finds a more assured footing as she narrows in on the pain each character both endures and inflicts. Mireille's desperate attempts to wrestle control from her kidnappers by sacrificing her body are deeply felt, but it's the author's unflinching portrayal of Mireille's shattered physical and psychological state once she's rejoined her husband and infant son that is at once disturbing and frighteningly resonant. Agent: Maria Massie, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A fairy tale...its complex and fragile moral arrived at through great pain and high cost....Perhaps Haiti, too, is a beautiful princess, well-versed in the vagaries of men, still searching for a happily ever after.” The New York Times Book Review
Set in Haiti, Roxane Gay's first novel, An Untamed State, is a roundhouse kick to notions of privilege.” Vanity Fair
Clear your schedule now! Once you start this book, you will not be able to put it down. An Untamed State is a novel of hope intermingled with fear....It is written at a pace that will match your racing heart.” Edwidge Danticat, author of Claire of the Sea Light
[Roxane Gay] has written one of the most unsettling books of the year. And shes just getting started....Dark, gripping....Its a compelling and at times painful read that addresses the issues of economic privilege, immigration, and sexual assault.” Chicago Magazine
An Untamed State is breathless, artful, disturbing and original. I wont ever forget it.” Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings
[A] superbly written and excoriating first tale of terror and suspense....Gay is a daring and transfixing storyteller, depicting with valor and deep intent hellishly intrusive violence, shocking betrayal, and psychological devastation, the poison fruits of prejudice, injustice, greed, and desperation. Ferocious, gripping, and unforgettable.” Booklist (starred review)
Roxane Gay's debut novel stands out as an event in itself. A writer who has shown time and time (and time and time...) again that she possesses an abundance of talent and passion, Gay has written a truly unforgettable first novel about a woman's kidnapping in Haiti and what comes after, family, what we want, and what we think we deserve. An Untamed State is sure to stick with you for a very long time after you've closed it.” Flavorwire (10 Must-Read Books for May)
Gay brilliantly writes of the story's external events while skillfully capturing Mireille's internal anguish. Not since Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper has an author so effectively captured the descent into mental instability.” Library Journal (starred review)
An Untamed State is the kind of book you have to keep putting down because you cant believe how good it is. Awesome, powerful, impossible to ignore, Roxane Gay is a literary force of nature. An Untamed State arrives like a hurricane.” Mat Johnson, author of Pym
A harrowing and emotionally cleareyed vision of one woman's ordeal during and after her kidnapping in Haiti...remarkable....A cutting and resonant debut.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
An Untamed State is a harrowing, suspenseful novel about the connections between sexual violence and political rage, narrated in a voice at once traumatized and eerily controlled. Roxane Gay is a remarkable writer, an astute observer of Haitian society and a deeply sympathetic, unflinching chronicler of the compromises people make in order to survive under the most extreme conditions.” Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children and Nine Inches
From the astonishing first line to the final scene, An Untamed State is magical and dangerous. I could not put it down. Pay attention to Roxane Gay; she's here to stay.” Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow and Leaving Atlanta
About the Author
Roxane Gay's writing has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, NOON, The New York Times Book Review, The Rumpus, Salon, The Wall Street Journals Speakeasy culture blog, and many others including her Tumblr, roxanegay.tumblr.com. She is the co-editor of PANK and essays editor for The Rumpus. She teaches writing at Eastern Illinois University. She tweets at @rgay.
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