Author: Roxane Gay
Published 2017 Grove Press 978-0802125392
272 pages $25 US
Available in print and eBook
tl;dr: READ IT!
Why I Read It
I received Difficult Women through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Where do I begin? I first became familiar with Roxane Gay when I read Bad Feminist. I’m not usually a non-fiction reader, but I was going through a time in my life where I knew what feminism was and what it stood for, but I was looking for something or someone who did feminism the way I did feminism. That is to say, someone who saw flaws in the way we talk about feminism, and acknowledges that we are contradictory people. That said, I’d never read Gay’s previous novel An Untamed State. I had to put it down after reading the description, because it was going to be more emotionally taxing than I was ready for at the time. Picking up Difficult Women, though, was a no brainer. I can handle short pieces that can be read in one sitting, even if they are difficult or hard reads.
Here’s What I Think
The women in these stories are people you could meet in your everyday life. Why are they difficult? Technically, they aren’t. They would, however, be labeled as difficult by a society who believes that women should be quiet and docile. These are women who may or may not fit in, who are grieving, who are attached, who have had horrific things happen to them, who are real, whole human beings even in their brokenness. I had visceral reactions to several stories in the collection, including the title story “Difficult Women” and “I Will Follow You”. In fact, my reaction to “I Will Follow You” was so strong that I had to put it down for a few days.
Some of the stories in the middle are a bit forgettable. It definitely seems as though the collection was front loaded. That said, I did enjoy Difficult Women overall, and am happy to have read it. I am anxiously awaiting Hunger, and this collection has solidified Roxane Gay as an auto buy author for me.