A national bestseller from the “prolific and exceptionally insightful” (Globe and Mail) Roxane Gay, Difficult Women is a collection of stories of rare force that paints a wry, beautiful, haunting vision of modern America.
Difficult Women tells 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 have been inseparable ever since they were abducted together as children, and, grown now, 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 gives voice to a chorus of unforgettable women in a scintillating collection reminiscent of Merritt Tierce, Anne Enright, and Miranda July.
“Like Joyce Carol Oates’ Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? or Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, this is fiction pressed through a sieve, leaving only the canniest truths behind . . . Addictive, moving and risk-taking.”―San Francisco Chronicle
“Roxane Gay, the acclaimed American essayist and novelist, charges from the gate in her debut collection of short fiction . . . These are the places I’m going to take you, Gay seems to be saying. Are you prepared? . . . Provocation operates on different levels in this collection. First on the level of theme―the presentation of female sexual desire, both masochistic and otherwise, is vigorous and forthright, the language refreshingly frank and graphic―then on the level of technique.”―The Globe and Mail(Canada)
“I’m currently reading Difficult Women, by Roxane Gay, and I’m getting my life from it . . . Roxane Gay seems to have a knack for fearlessly telling the truth. Even in her fiction.”―Gabourey Sidibe, The New York Times Book Review (“By the Book”)
“Gay’s signature dry wit and piercing psychological depth make every story mesmerizingly unusual and simply unforgettable.”―Harper’s Bazaar
“In so many ways, Gay’s Difficult Women feel simultaneously fictitious and like they could (and probably do) live right down the street. Perhaps they even live inside of our coworkers, our friends, our sisters and ourselves . . . Gay’s writing is unparalleled.”―Forbes
“Difficult Women . . . deftly and terrifyingly underscores the absurdity of a society tacitly ordered by skin color and the privileges accrued by those who have ended up at the winning end, circled and watched by those who have not . . . Gay peels it all back, exposing the raw, the enraged and the perversely beautiful.”―New Republic
“Gay’s work is as varied as women’s experiences. Each story feels fresh and new, a blanket of snow you both want and don’t want to muddy with a footprint. Difficult Women . . . solidifies Gay’s place as one of the voices of our age.”―National Post (Canada)
“Gay excels in her allowance for human complexity . . . One of the book’s greatest achievements is Gay’s psychological acuity.”―Washington Post
“Writing that seems to cut to the bone . . . These stories of sisters and mothers and daughters and lovers are haunting, and their quiet voices linger . . . they draw you in.”―The Seattle Times