Award-winning author and powerhouse talent Roxane Gay burst onto the scene with An Untamed State and the New York Times bestselling essay collection Bad Feminist (Harper Perennial). Gay returns with Difficult Women, a collection of stories of rare force and beauty, of hardscrabble lives, passionate loves, and quirky and vexed human connection.
The women in these stories live lives of privilege and of poverty, are in marriages both loving and haunted by past crimes or emotional blackmail. A pair of sisters, grown now, have been inseparable ever since they were abducted together as children, and must negotiate the elder sister's marriage. A woman married to a twin pretends not to realize when her husband and his brother impersonate each other. A stripper putting herself through college fends off the advances of an overzealous customer. A black engineer moves to Upper Michigan for a job and faces the malign curiosity of her colleagues and the difficulty of leaving her past behind. From a girls’ fight club to a wealthy subdivision in Florida where neighbors conform, compete, and spy on each other, Gay delivers a wry, beautiful, haunting vision of modern America reminiscent of Merritt Tierce, Jamie Quatro, and Miranda July.
I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher. This does not influence my thoughts on the book or this review.
I loved Bad Feminist when I read it a few months ago, and when I heard that Gay’s collection of short stories was being published, I knew I had to read it.
Difficult Women is a collection of short stories, ranging from realistic fiction to magical realism and even to dystopia. Based on the title, it’s easy to realize that the short stories all feature unique and strong women. The stories all ranged and I enjoyed most of them. A few were hard to read (as they dealt with dark and sometimes distressing topics) but Gay’s distinct writing style made each short story unique and worth the read. The stories ranged in length, but ultimately they were each extraordinary.
Overall, Difficult Women was a wonderfully written short story collection with a unique voice and characters that readers will definitely be invested in!