I've been following Roxane Gay for years, but Difficult Women was my first foray into her fiction. Her writing here is incisive and unflinchingly honest about humanity at its worst, but she also shows a tremendous amount of compassion for the characters she portrays. There is something here for everyone. Recommended By Ashleigh B., Powells.com
I don't typically read much short fiction, but the cover of Difficult Women was so beautiful, I couldn't resist it. I'm so glad I picked it up. Roxane Gay writes with a dark edge, which I love, but her stories are far from bleak. There's a lot of hope in these stories, no matter what their characters endure emotionally. Recommended By Emily F., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Award-winning author and livewire talent Roxane Gay burst onto the scene with the widely acclaimed novel 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 gives voice to a chorus of unforgettable women in a scintillating collection reminiscent of Merritt Tierce, Jamie Quatro, and Miranda July.
"Gay expands her writing prowess with this collection featuring colorful women protagonists... Refreshing yet intricate... This work will appeal to lovers of literary and feminist fiction." Ashanti White, Library Journal (Starred Review)
"A powerful collection of short stories about difficult, troubled, headstrong, and unconventional women.... Whether focusing on assault survivors, single mothers, or women who drown their guilt in wine and bad boyfriends, Gay’s fantastic collection is challenging, quirky, and memorable." Publishers Weekly
"Unified in theme — the struggles of women claiming independence for themselves — but wide-ranging in conception and form... Gay is an admirable risk-taker in her exploration of women’s lives and new ways to tell their stories." Kirkus Reviews
"Gay tells intimate, deep, wry tales of jaggedly dimensional women.... Be they writer, scientist, or stripper, Gay’s women suffer grave abuses, mourn unfathomable losses, love hard, and work harder." Annie Bostrom, Booklist
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.