Roxane Gay

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Roxane Gay
Roxane gay 9134940.JPG
Reading at Fall for the Book, 2014
Born (1974-10-15) October 15, 1974 (age 42)
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
Occupation Professor, writer
Nationality American
Alma mater Phillips Exeter Academy
Michigan Technological University
Genres Novel, short story, criticism

Roxane Gay (born October 15, 1974)[1][2] is an American writer, professor, editor and commentator.[3][4] She is an associate professor of English at Purdue University, contributing opinion writer at The New York Times,[5] founder of Tiny Hardcore Press, essays editor for The Rumpus, and co-editor of PANK, a nonprofit literary arts collective.[6][7]

She perhaps best known as the writer of the New York Times best-selling essay collection Bad Feminist (2014). She is also the author of the short story collection Ayiti (2011), the novel An Untamed State (2014), the short story collection Difficult Women (2017), and Hunger (2017).[8]

Early life and education[edit]

Gay was born in Omaha, Nebraska,[2] to a family of Haitian descent.[9] She attended high school at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.[10]

Gay began her undergraduate studies at Yale University but dropped out in her junior year to pursue a relationship in Arizona.[11][12] She completed her undergraduate degree in Nebraska and also earned an MA with an emphasis in Creative Writing from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.[13] In 2010, Gay received a PhD in Rhetoric and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University;[14] her dissertation was entitled Subverting the Subject Position: Toward a New Discourse About Students as Writers and Engineering Students as Technical Communicators. Ann Brandy served as her dissertation advisor.[15]


After completing her Ph.D., Gay began her academic teaching career in the fall 2010 at Eastern Illinois University,[16] where she was assistant professor of English. While at EIU, in addition to her teaching duties, she was a contributing editor for Bluestem magazine[17] and she also founded Tiny Hardcore Press. Gay worked at Eastern Illinois University until the end of the 2013-2014 academic year, taking a job in August 2014 at Purdue University as associate professor of creative writing.[6]

Gay published a short story collection Ayiti (2011), then two books in 2014: the novel An Untamed State and the essay collection Bad Feminist (2014),[8] leading one Time Magazine reviewer to declare, "Let this be the year of Roxane Gay."[18] The review noted of her inclusive style: "Gay’s writing is simple and direct, but never cold or sterile. She directly confronts complex issues of identity and privilege, but it’s always accessible and insightful."[18]

An Untamed State[edit]

In 2014, Gay published a novel, An Untamed State.

Bad Feminist[edit]

Gay's collection of essays, Bad Feminist, was released in 2014 to widespread acclaim; it addresses both cultural and political issues, and became a New York Times best-seller.[19] A Time magazine reviewer dubbed Bad Feminist "a manual on how to be human" and called Gay the "gift that keeps on giving."[20] In a 2014 interview with the magazine, Gay explained her role as a feminist and how it has influenced her writing: "In each of these essays, I’m very much trying to show how feminism influences my life for better or worse. It just shows what it’s like to move through the world as a woman. It’s not even about feminism per se, it’s about humanity and empathy."[20]

In The Guardian, critic Kira Cochrane offered a similar assessment, "While online discourse is often characterised by extreme, polarised opinions, her writing is distinct for being subtle and discursive, with an ability to see around corners, to recognise other points of view while carefully advancing her own. In print, on Twitter and in person, Gay has the voice of the friend you call first for advice, calm and sane as well as funny, someone who has seen a lot and takes no prisoners."[13]

A group of feminist scholars and activists analyzed Gay's Bad Feminist for "Short Takes: Provocations on Public Feminism," an initiative of the feminist journal Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society.[21]

Difficult Women[edit]

In 2017, Gay published a short story collection called Difficult Women.[22][23][24]


Gay's book, Hunger, was released in June 2017.[25] Hunger is a memoir about Gay's experience with weight, body image, and building a positive relationship with food. In an interview with Elite Daily, Gay described this book as a testimony of "what it’s like to live in a world that tried to discipline unruly bodies."[26]

Other projects[edit]

In July 2016, Gay and poet Yona Harvey were announced as writers for Marvel Comics' World of Wakanda, a spin-off from the company's Black Panther title,[27] making them the first black women to be lead writers for Marvel.[28]

Gay was featured in a five-minute segment of This American Life on June 17, 2016, talking about her body, and how she is perceived as a fat person.[29]

Gay has a forthcoming book, How to Be Heard, originally set to be published in 2018 by TED Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. However, in January 2017 Gay announced she was pulling the book from Simon & Schuster due to her objections to alt-right journalist Milo Yiannopoulos receiving a book deal from another Simon & Schuster imprint.[30]

She also edited the book Girl Crush: Women's Erotic Fantasies.[31] In addition to her regular contributions to Salon and the now defunct HTMLGiant,[32] her writing has appeared 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, Bookforum, Time, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation and The New York Times Book Review.[33]

Roxane Gay was featured in the 2016 book In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs. [34]


Much of Gay's written work deals with the analysis and deconstruction of feminist and racial issues through the lens of her personal experiences with race, gender identity, and sexuality.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Gay began writing essays as a teenager;[35] her work has been greatly influenced by a sexual assault she experienced at age 12.[13]

Gay is openly bisexual.[36]

Works and publications[edit]

Selected short fiction
Other selected works


  1. ^ "Roxane Gay". Freedom from Religion Foundation. 
  2. ^ a b Gay, Roxane. "Once, I Was Pretty". Retrieved 9 April 2016. 
  3. ^ "Roxane Gay". Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
  4. ^ Halle, Steve (March 29, 2012). "Roxane Gay to Visit Bloomington-Normal/ISU on April 17". Archived from the original on December 13, 2013. Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
  5. ^ Gay, Roxane (August 21, 2016). "Nate Parker and the Limits of Empathy". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-08-26. 
  6. ^ a b Higgins, Jim (May 23, 2014). "Talking with 'An Untamed State' author Roxane Gay". The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  7. ^ "About". PANK. Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "About | Roxane Gay". Retrieved September 25, 2015. 
  9. ^ Gregory, Alice (2014-10-10). "Daphne Merkin's "The Fame Lunches" and Roxane Gay's "Bad Feminist"". The New York Times. Retrieved June 5, 2015. 
  10. ^ John Freeman (Summer 2014). "Roxane Gay". Bomb. 
  11. ^ McArdle, Molly (2017-02-22). "The Rise of Roxane Gay". Brooklyn Magazine. Retrieved 2017-03-22. 
  12. ^ Chenery, Susan (2015-01-17). "Roxane Gay, the Bad Feminist as Role Model". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2017-03-22. 
  13. ^ a b c d Cochrane, Kira (2 August 2014). "Roxane Gay: Meet the Bad Feminist". The Guardian. Retrieved March 1, 2016. 
  14. ^ a b "Roxane Gay". Purdue College of Liberal Arts. Retrieved 2017-03-22. 
  15. ^ "Dissertations, Master's Theses and Master's Reports". Retrieved August 3, 2014. 
  16. ^ "2010-2011 Undergraduate Catalog" (PDF). Eastern Illinois University. Retrieved 12 April 2016. 
  17. ^ "Masthead". English Department, Eastern Illinois University. Archived from the original on April 30, 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2016. 
  18. ^ a b Feeney, Nolan (May 7, 2014). "Roxane Gay’s Riveting Debut Novel An Untamed State". Time. Retrieved April 10, 2016. 
  19. ^ "Bad Feminist | Roxane Gay". Retrieved March 8, 2016. 
  20. ^ a b c Feeney, Nolan (August 5, 2014). "Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist Is a "Manual on How to Be a Human"". Time. Retrieved March 8, 2016. 
  21. ^ "Short Takes: Provocations on Public Feminism. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay". Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. Retrieved 2016-02-02. 
  22. ^ French, Agatha (2017-05-11). "Roxane Gay and Randa Jarrar talk Twitter, 'Difficult Women' and kink in L.A.". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-06-22. 
  23. ^ Newman, Sandra (2017-02-10). "Difficult Women by Roxane Gay review – bold feminist stories". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-06-22. 
  24. ^ "Roxane Gay's new book 'Difficult Women' proves her power". Los Angeles Times. 2017-01-12. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-06-22. 
  25. ^ Christian Holub, "Roxane Gay announces Difficult Women, delays Hunger", Entertainment Weekly, June 17, 2016.
  26. ^ "I Want Your Job: Roxane Gay, Author Of 'Bad Feminist'". Elite Daily. Retrieved March 8, 2016. 
  27. ^ Gustines, George Gene (2016-07-22). "Marvel’s World of Wakanda Will Spotlight Women, on the Page and Behind It". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-07-23. 
  28. ^ Blay, Zeba (2016-07-29). "Roxane Gay Is The Lead Writer Of A Marvel Comic. Here’s Why That’s Huge.". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-10-07. 
  29. ^ "589: Tell Me I'm Fat". This American Life. June 17, 2016. Retrieved 2016-07-06. 
  30. ^ Gay, Roxane. "Roxane Gay pulls book from Simon & Schuster over Milo Yiannopoulos deal". Retrieved 25 January 2017. 
  31. ^ "Roxane Gay". Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Roxane Gay – HTMLGIANT". 
  33. ^ "Posts by Roxane Gay". Rumpus Magazine. Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  34. ^ Bonney, Grace (2016). In the Company of Women. New York, NY: Workman Publishing Co. p. 85. ISBN 9781579655976. 
  35. ^ Tietzel, Nina (June 4, 2015). "Roxane Gay: Writer and self-proclaimed 'bad feminist' talks truth and fiction". ABC. Retrieved June 5, 2015. 
  36. ^ Roxane Gay (October 11, 2015). "Twitter". Retrieved October 12, 2015. 
  37. ^ Waldman, Katy. "It Is Good to Be a "Bad" Feminist". Slate. Retrieved September 16, 2014. 

External links[edit]