Difficult Women

Roxane Gay

Difficult Women is a collection of short stories by Roxane Gay that I recently read for the 2020 Reading Rush and I loved it.

Going into this book, I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of it because on the one hand I love Roxane Gay’s writing but on the other I haven’t read many short stories and was unsure how I would found it. This meant I was pleasantly surprised when I enjoyed it so much I finished it in a matter of days.

The brilliance of these short stories is completely down to Gay’s incredible ability to portray women from such varied backgrounds and experiences. Despite being only one person, Gay is somehow able to write about these different women in a beautiful and truly insightful way. These stories give us excerpts of women’s lives; how they live, how they are treated and how they feel. We are given stories of women who live lives of poverty and of privilege, in loving and loveless relationships, however Gay does place a focus on the abuse and violence women can face.

Not only does Gay write about varied examples of violence experienced by women but also how different women cope with violence, how they use it, and how it impacts their lives going foward even once when it is no longer an immediate threat to them. Some of the most interesting stories focus on women who choose to put themselves in harmful or violent situations because they cannot cope with the reality of their lives and believe that they deserve to be treated as though they are nothing.

Gay writes about the tragic experiences of women with both objectivity and compassion, creating women who may as well be living, breathing people that you cannot help but sympathise with. Reading this collection will only enhance your understanding of the complexity of what it means to be a women who faces abuse.


Roxane Gay

Hunger is a deeply moving memoir by Roxane Gay focusing on her personal relationship to food, weight and body image and how this has been heavily influenced by experiences within the world and how the world treats her as a fat woman of colour.

Roxane Gay is by far one of my favourite authors, having previously read her essay collection Bad Feminist and her short story collection Difficult Women, both of which proved to be fascinating reads and Hunger by no means breaks her streak.

The way in which Gay navigates writing about deeply personal experiences from her past and more recent treatment she faces is beautifully done and the way in which she handles the intersections of being queer, black and fat within the book ought to be applauded. This gives us a memoir which subtly questions how society treats fat people whilst confronting any internal, and potentially unknown, judgements you as the reader may have.

Furthermore, Gay’s exploration of the complex relationship that almost always exists between an individual’s mental or emotional health and their weight is demonstrated in the most personal way possible through the author recounting personal trauma and how it has impacted her relationship with her body over the course of her life.

The brutal reality of what it is to not only be a fat person, but a fat queer woman of colour in the USA could not be better conveyed than in Roxane Gay’s Hunger.