Author to Know: Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is an American writer, editor, commentator, and associate professor of English at Purdue University. She is not committed to any type of writing form, having witten novels, short stories, books of essays, and memoir. Gay is currently a contributing opinion writer at The New York Times, the founder of Tiny Hardcore Press, the essays editor for The Rumpus, and the co-editor of PANK, a nonprofit literary arts collective. She is the author of The New York Times best-selling essay collection, Bad Feminist, and has written four other books: Ayiti, a book of short stories, An Untamed State, a novel, Difficult Women, another short story collection, and Hunger, her 2017 memoir. She is also a writer for the Marvel Comics’ World of Wakanda, a spin-off from the company’s Black Panther title.

Gay was born in Omaha, Nebraska to a family of Haitian descent. She identified herself academically at a very young age, moving to New Hampshire at thirteen years old to attend high school at Phillips Exeter Academy. She began her undergraduate studies at Yale University, but dropped out as a junior. Later, she completed her undergraduate degree in Nebraska, going on to earn an MA (emphasis in Creative Writing) from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. In 2010, Gay earned her PhD in Rhetoric and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University.

Much of Gay’s work analyzes and deconstructs feminist and racial issues through a lens of her personal experience with race, gender identity, body image, and sexuality. Nearly all of her writing touches on or critiques at least one of these themes; as a result, her books are harrowing, dramatic, and completely engrossing. Gay speaks candidly about her experience with sexual assault, being super morbidly obese, and living as an openly bisexual woman. She is also loved by fans for her biting, funny, and astute Twitter take-downs.

First-time readers of Roxane Gay should read Bad Feminist, her best-known and loved book. This collection of essays, released in 2014, addresses both cultural and political issues. Funny and insightful, Gay takes readers through her personal evolution as a feminist woman of color, commenting on her love for hip hop, the current state of feminism, and personal growth. The most accessible of Gay’s books, Bad Feminist is a great read for any person interested in politics and feminism.