22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay was born in Omaha, USA to Haitian parents in 1974. She completed a master’s degree with a focus on creative writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a doctorate in Rhetoric and Technical Communication at Michigan Technological University. Since then, she has taught at various universities; most recently, she was a visiting professor at Yale.

In 2011, she made her literary debut with the short story collection »Ayiti«. The overarching themes of the volume are Haiti as a country with a complex history and the lives of the Haitian diaspora. This was followed by the essay collection »Bad Feminist« (2014), whose title alludes to Gay’s attitude that she would »rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all,« acknowledging and allowing for mistakes when pursuing feminist goals. With astute and humorous observations, she addresses the issues of politics, gender, sexuality, and racism in essays that are sometimes very personal. Her debut novel »An Untamed State« (2014) tells the story of Mireille, the adult daughter of a wealthy Haitian, who is kidnapped. The kidnappers, enraged by the economic inequality in their country, demand a seven-figure ransom. But the father refuses to pay. For thirteen days, Mireille remains at the mercy of her kidnappers. »The Guardian« described the work as »Told in language that is spare and unflinching in its portrayal of sexual and spiritual violence,« declaring that »Mireille’s story is a harrowing nightmare; yet it is also a gripping and surprisingly hopeful tale.« She published the short story collection »Difficult Women« in 2017. With dry-wit and psychological intelligence, Gay recounts the lives of her protagonists with sexual relationships and sexualized violence as recurring themes. In her memoir »Hunger« (2017), Gay explores her relationship with her own body, which was shaped by a traumatic event – a rape that she survived in early adolescence. With painful honesty, Gay describes the feelings of shame and guilt that accompanied her for a long time. Eating became an addiction, as her increasingly heavy body took on the function of a protective wall. Writing helped her to come to terms with her experiences, as she emphasized in an interview with »Zeit«: »Writing was a way out for me. Through writing, I was able to express myself, even in moments when I lacked the language to speak to others. On paper, I had a relationship with myself again.«

The author lives in Indiana and Los Angeles.