Formative Writing Experiences (02:03)
Gay reads from her memoir “Hunger” at California State University Northridge. She and Carlos Watson discuss her early writing at her home in Los Angeles.
Gay's Parents (02:02)
Michael and Nicole Gay grew up in Haiti before immigrating to the United States and meeting in New York. The Gays say they were outsiders after moving to a mostly white community in Nebraska; they describe Roxane as a loner and bibliophile.
Gay Recalls Sexual Assault (02:24)
Gay recalls being gang-raped by a group of boys at age 12. She did not tell anyone. Professor of Psychology Angela Duckworth describes the psychological impact of such traumatic events.
Mysterious Weight Gain (01:40)
Gay recalls attending Phillips Exeter Academy where she put on weight rapidly. Her parents say they knew nothing about her trauma and sought medical treatment for her.
Gay discusses the nervous breakdown she suffered at age 19, while attending Yale University. She recalls traveling cross-country to be with an older man she met on the Internet.
Struggle to Get Published (01:41)
Gay went back to school and began writing in earnest in her 20s, but initially had little success. “Roxanne wrote for free for years and years … just to get her name out there,” literary agent Maria Massie says. The author gives advice to a fan she meets at a signing.
Pank Magazine (02:09)
In graduate school, Gay helped launch a literary magazine that she used to share her work with the world. She had a creative breakthrough with her essay “The Careless Language of Sexual Violence,” which is her response to coverage of the gang-rape of an adolescent in Texas.
"Bad Feminist" (03:50)
Massie recalls how Gay first came to her attention. The author reached a national audience with her first collection of essays, which confronts mainstream feminism.
Gay’s newfound popularity opened her up to personal attacks on social media. Her second essay collection is about “what it means to live in the world in a fat body.”
Following her greatest successes, Gay has learned to live more fully in the present. “I won’t say I’m a confident person, but I’m definitely more at ease with myself,” she says. She is working on a screenplay based on her novel, “An Untamed State.”
Credits: Roxane Gay (00:18)
Credits: Roxane Gay
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