Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is the author of An Untamed State and Bad Feminist, both out in 2014. She lives and writes in the Midwest.

Recent Articles

Food TV’s Sadistic Glee

Competitive cooking shows and our yearning for what we dare not eat

AP Photo/Anders Krusberg
I am competitive. I try to keep this to myself, but oh, in my heart of hearts, I want to win anything that can be won. As a child, I needed to earn the highest grades and offer, when called upon, the most astute answers, the better to impress teacher. Yes, I was that girl. I have a national Scrabble ranking, though it is not impressive. When I sit across from other word nerds, I want to destroy them. I feel competitive when driving on the interstate, when following the career arcs of other writers, when reading a book and the Kindle tells me I have eight hours left. That is a throwing down of the gauntlet. I determine to finish in six. When we compete, we try to prove we are excellent. When we win, we say, “I have mastered this endeavor, and I am excellent.” The rush is seductive. I am not alone in craving that rush, and perhaps that is why contests have become the mainstay of so many cultural pursuits that don’t seem conducive to them. Spelling bees and poker and...

Last Day of a Young Black Man

Fruitvale Station's intimate portrait of Oscar Grant promises better days ahead for black film.

AP Images/Ron Koberer
Three hours before the advance screening of Fruitvale Station I attended in Chicago, a line of eager fans snaked through the Cineplex. Many were dressed up, hair done right, faces beat. Writer and director Ryan Coogler and stars Octavia Spencer and Michael B. Jordan were on hand for a talkback after the screening. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, introducing the actors and the drama, which won the 2013 Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, referred to the movie’s subject matter as “Trayvon Martin in real time” and led a vigorous call-and-response. There was a charge in the air, like the one I felt a month earlier at a crowded screening of the romantic comedy Peeples, written and directed by Tina Gordon Chism. During both screenings, attended by predominantly black audiences, the crowd laughed, nodded in the darkness, and, when each movie finished, offered sighs of contentment and effusive praise. At the end of Fruitvale Station, there were also tears. Contemporary black film is...