Roxane Gay has many identities. When she explains intersectional feminism, she tells people that she’s a woman, Haitian American, Catholic, from Nebraska, tattooed. She’s also a writer, a “bad feminist,” a compulsive tweeter and a competitive Scrabble player. And she’s coming to the Houston on Monday to read from her new book, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body.
If you don’t have time to read all of her books before the event, have no fear. This quick guide will tell you everything you need to know about one of the women who made intersectional feminism cool.
This is Gay's newest, rawest book, and, in her own words, the book that she “wanted to write the least.” Hunger is a memoir focused on her weight and relationship with her body. She writes openly and honestly about how she began overeating after being sexually assaulted as a child and then about how she continued to gain weight and experience judgment and disdain in the eyes of others in reaction to that event.
Bad Feminist brought Gay into the spotlight. Since the publication of the essay collection, Gay has become known as a prominent voice of intersectional feminism. Essays comment on everything from Sweet Valley High and Girls to race and abortion. Her writing ranges from intensely personal to critical social commentary. The eye-catching title reflects Gay’s self-identification as a “bad feminist.” She’ll sing along to the lyrics of Blurred Lines, but she’s also self-aware about it, criticizing the message and the sexism of pop music. “I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human,” she writes. “I am messy. I am not trying to be perfect.” More recently, Gay published Difficult Women, a short story collection exploring the lives and loves of complex, flawed female characters.
If you would dare question Beyoncé's feminism, just go to bed already and sleep your foolishness off— roxane gay (@rgay) April 24, 2016
Gay writes in her Twitter bio “If you clap, I clap back,” and she certainly does, publicly responding to her trolls and critics with biting commentary. But it’s not all snark. She live-tweets encounters with her UPS man and episodes of The Bachelor, writes about her love of the Fast and Furious franchise, and occasionally responds to readers’ questions. She’s debated the Mizzou protests with David Simon, creator of The Wire, and detailed events from her book-signings. She’s even tweeted about her adoration of Magic Mike and Channing Tatum, who responded that he was “pro-feminism” and wanted to talk to her about the Magic Mike show.
World of Wakanda
Along with poet Yona Harvey, Gay brings to life the fictional African nation of Wakanda before the rise of Black Panther. Published in November 2016, World of Wakanda was the first Marvel Comics series written by black women. The comics tell the love story of Ayo and Aneka, two women who serve as body guards to the Black Panther. Together, they form a vigilante group known as the Midnight Angels and fight for justice. Gay’s series was written as a prequel to Black Panther, following the success of the relaunched series written by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Although World of Wakanda was canceled after six issues, it received critical acclaim and brought some much needed diversity to the comic book industry.