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Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014

Roxanne Gay’s ‘Bad Feminist’

Author tackles society’s mixed-up messages at Boswell

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What does it mean to be a “bad” feminist? In Roxanne Gay’s riveting new collection, she states that a “bad” woman’s-libber, in her mind, is someone who is full of all-too-human contradictions. This authentic and raw honesty permeates all of Gay’s stories, from her riveting tale of her own gang rape during the seventh grade to her whimsical reminiscences about Sweet Valley High.

At once a commentary on popular culture as well as a series of deep, rambling musings, Bad Feminist is an emotional rollercoaster that is filled with everything from raw insecurities to sharp political criticism. This spot-on commentary on American culture is highly intelligent, engaging and conversational. Readers will cheer for Gay as she competes in a Scrabble tourney and soul-search alongside her as she takes on controversial topics like abortion legislation. Moving fluidly from light-hearted prose to profound deconstruction of terms like “feminism,” Bad Feminist is a searing collection of powerful narratives that will lead readers to examine new aspects of society and the mixed-up messages that are sent our way.

 Gay’s writing has appeared in numerous publications ranging from Best American Short Stories 2012 to Virginia Quarterly Review. In addition to Bad Feminist, Gay recently released her debut novel, An Untamed State, which tells the fast-paced, sobering tale of one woman’s battle to overcome the unfathomable traumas of surviving a 13-day kidnapping nightmare. Gay currently is a professor at Eastern Illinois University. She will appear at Boswell Book Co. at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 8.