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Difficult Women

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3.97  ·  Rating details ·  14,025 Ratings  ·  2,108 Reviews
Award-winning author and powerhouse talent Roxane Gay burst onto the scene with An Untamed State—which earned rave reviews and was selected as one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post, NPR, the Boston Globe, and Kirkus—and her New York Times bestselling essay collection Bad Feminist (Harper Perennial). Gay returns with Difficult Women, a collection of stori ...more
Hardcover, 260 pages
Published January 3rd 2017 by Grove Press
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Francesca Edwards The stories about child rape stem from her own experience of being gang-raped at age 12. Of course it is uncomfortable to read about such things, but…moreThe stories about child rape stem from her own experience of being gang-raped at age 12. Of course it is uncomfortable to read about such things, but it is necessary for these voices to be heard. (less)
Kerri Davis I like to think this is about mental illness and the fragility of the glass woman represents someone suffering with a mental illness and the stoner…moreI like to think this is about mental illness and the fragility of the glass woman represents someone suffering with a mental illness and the stoner thrower a loved one. It is difficult being in love with someone suffering from depression etc as the smallest trigger can crack them and send them spiralling. The stone thrower clearly and deeply loves the glass woman but is constantly worrying about her shattering. He ends up having an affair with someone "..he does not have to see too much or love too carefully." This story for me highlights the difficulty of living and loving someone who is mentally ill and can "shatter" as well as being someone who is mentally ill and can see the impact they make on their loved ones. (less)

Community Reviews

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Debbie

Difficult Women could have easily been titled Sad Women or Sad Women Having Sex. No, no, no, not every woman is sad, and not every single story is about sex, but that’s the impression it left me. Don’t fret—it’s not too graphic and it’s not porn, it’s just there.

I’d love to hear why Gay titled the book Difficult Women. When I think of difficult women, I think of women who are generally a pain, who are sassy, who rock the boat. But here, these women have had their boats rocked. They have difficul
...more
Deanna
Sep 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars!


My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...

Roxane Gay is one talented writer. I'm not usually one for short-stories but I really enjoyed this collection. Many of the stories first appeared in publications such as Best American Mystery Stories, American Short Fiction, The Minnesota Review, Best American Short Stories and many others.

"a collection of stories of rare force and beauty, of hardscrabble lives, passionate loves, and quirky and vexed human connecti
...more
Elyse
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Anyone who does not know who *Roxane Gay* has been living under a rock for too long! She's a phenomenal talented inspiring woman.
Roxanne has brought tears to my eyes more than once. She's a feminist who turned to books as a child when her family moved several times and struggled to make friends. She began writing essays as a teenager-- and her work today is greatly influenced by a sexual assault she experienced at age 12.
From the first time -last June - when I had the honor to hear her speak -
...more
Brina
Yesterday Goodreads ran a question and answer session with author Roxane Gay in anticipation of the release of her memoir Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. I felt that Gay delivered poignant responses as she voiced what it means for her to be a feminist as we move forward through the 21st century. Next month, a group I belong to, Literary Fiction by People of Color, has selected Gay's Difficult Women as its monthly read. With Gay being a popular author as she continues to churn out novels and story ...more
Larry H
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'd give this 4.5 stars.

This is a crazy-good collection, filled with stories that are sometimes quirky, sometimes moving, sometimes ribald, sometimes funny, but nearly always utterly compelling. There are 21 stories in this collection—some last little more than a page, while some are much longer, but there is a real power in Roxane Gay's storytelling, whether the stories have an almost frenzied pace or proceed in a slower, more contemplative fashion.

While the title of this collection is Difficu
...more
Hannah
Aug 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This. This is the reason why I started reading more short story collections. I knew there must be brilliant books that I would miss otherwise. This collection is absolutely incredible and it might very well end up being my favourite book of 2016 (and I read some really great books this year).

There is not a single bad story in this collection and some were among the best things I have ever read. The collection is aptly named "Difficult Women" - women and their experiences are at the centre of thi
...more
Nat
Nov 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Anything with Roxane Gay’s name on it is guaranteed to pique my interest.

Difficult Women is a collection of short stories that cover a wide range of modern women, from a woman pretending not to realize when her husband switches places with his twin brother to a stripper putting herself through college and fending off an obsessed customer.

And a number of the stories had me just floored by the raw emotion and chilling writing.

Here are a few of my favorites pieces:

I Will Follow You:

A fantastic op
...more
Esil
Sep 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars. Ouch... Maybe it's the mood I'm in, but at times Difficult Women felt almost too harsh and painful for me to keep reading -- I had to temper its effects by breaking up my reading with a few chapters from a book about the Berlin Wall of all things. Difficult Women is a collection of short stories. Some are very short -- vignettes really -- and others are longer. Some flirt with surrealism, but most are anchored in a very dark reality. They almost all focus on women in nasty situations ...more
Emily May
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
A stunning collection of hard-hitting, discomfiting stories about women. In all their forms.

Many of the stories here pack a severe emotional punch, or challenge you to think, or disgust you. But what is evident throughout is that Gay is an amazing writer. For someone like me who generally prefers characters, plot, atmosphere and most things over the words themselves, it was astounding to be so floored by the author's command of language. She wields sentences as weapons and uses them to break you
...more
Taryn
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Twenty-one short stories about flawed, complex individuals who might typically be reduced to dismissive categories. I can't say I enjoyed reading Difficult Women, but I'm glad I read it. One of the many things that Gay excelled at was creating fully-formed characters and relationships in just a few pages. I felt like I intimately knew each character, even though some of the stories were very short. We're introduced to a variety of women: jaded women, women who don't think they deserve love, wome ...more
Thomas
Roxane Gay slays what she needs to slay with this riveting, hard-hitting short story collection about difficult women and the dangerous situations they face. As Gay has discussed in interviews, society often puts women in positions where they must fight and act "difficult" to survive - to fend off a leery coworker, to break free from an abusive boyfriend, to feel understood as a woman of color in a town filled with whiteness. This collection contains challenging topics, such as sexual assault, r ...more
Diane S ☔
Feb 05, 2017 rated it liked it
There is no question that this author can write and write well, and that I am the outlier so far in many reviews. These stories were grim, women placed in difficult situations, women treated with little kindness, many seemed to just accept their lives would be like this. Hopelessness, despair, women in many different situations, many occupations. Some were more fantastical and I found these a welcome relief. These may be realistic, thankfully I don't know, maybe these are true depictions of some ...more
PattyMacDotComma
3.5★
"For difficult women, who should be celebrated for their very nature."
Roxane Gay's introduction.

I really liked the first stories – the writing, the characters, the situations. But as it went on, too many of the women (and the men and occasional friends) were like replicas of each other. Whether wealthy or dirt poor, they were difficult for those around them.

I also had the feeling that almost all the women seemed to be defined by the men in their lives. In some cases, they were men they had l
...more
Shannon
Broken Women
Lost Women
Troubled Women
Abused Women

Many titles come to mind to describe these stories; difficult is not one of them. And I guess because I was expecting a different interpretation of difficult - though, admittedly with Bad Feminist lingering in the back of my mind - this book caught me off guard. Had I picked up this book with An Untamed State frame of mind, I would've been on target.

My primary issue with the book is that nearly all of these women deal with their issues the same wa
...more
Book Riot Community
You can’t just use words like “great” or “amazing” to describe this story collection. I settled on astonishing, arresting, and staggering. It requires language that pinpoints at least a little the ways that Difficult Women will wreck you. You will be wrecked, but you will also feel affirmed and seen and known. That may sound like a contradiction, but that is what Difficult Women is all about. The contradictions of existing as a woman in the world. The contradictions of sex, love, and connection. ...more
Lestat
Nov 25, 2016 rated it did not like it
True confession - I haven't read any Roxane Gay, but I have heard a lot about her work. It's not like I've avoided her writing, just haven't had access to it. So when Netgalley had her latest collection 'Difficult Women' up for grabs, I grabbed with both hands.

Admittedly, between reading the blurb of the book and reading the actual book, several months went by, so the first of the stories was not what I expected, and neither were the rest. The collection didn't quite fit the book's title of Dif
...more
Jessica
Nov 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Roxane Gay can fucking WRITE. Even though the stories can be phenomenally uncomfortable in their subject matter, the precision of her language and the wonder of her story construction leave me in awe.
Elise (TheBookishActress)
Okay, first of all: I love Roxane Gay. I've actually never read anything by her before, but I saw her speak at my local bookstore recently and absolutely loved it. She was one of the funniest speakers we've ever had, I think. I also love that she's a famous feminist who isn't a skinny straight white woman. Nothing against skinny straight white woman; it's just great to see famous feminists who have different marginalized identities, too.

Unfortunately, as much as I respect her, I'm not sure how
...more
Rachel León
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Hot damn, I get to be the first to review a book—and not just any book, but Roxane Gay’s short story collection! *throws confetti*

[clears throat]

Thanks to Netgalley I was able to read Roxane Gay's forthcoming short story collection, Difficult Women, in exchange for an honest review.

I’m giving this one five stars. It’s probably technically 4.5 stars, but I’m rounding up because I absolutely love Roxane Gay and some of the stories deserve more than 5 stars.

I feel like a broken record every time I
...more
Carolyn
I don't generally read feminist writing and I've never read anything by Roxane Gay before. However, I once heard her speak as part of a TV panel discussion and she was such an erudite, smart and interesting speaker that I was drawn to read this book of her short stories.
The women in her stories are not so much 'difficult' but real and tough and sometimes tender and loving. Many of them have difficult lives or difficult starts to life and have had to endure or overcome poverty, abuse and even ab
...more
Khadidja
i know i know. it took me forever to finish this book, i was on vacation and couldn't read much. Anyway. Difficult women was an original work. i have never read anything like this, such beautiful stories, heartbreaking at times. I loved it, and had a great time reading it. Most of these stories were about wives and mothers. stories I couldn't relate to, i'm not married nor am I a mother, still I found the stories very captivating and challenging. Roxane Gay is smart and brave to write about topi ...more
Bianca
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Occasionally, I've been called "difficult". By both women and men. So this book appealed to me, as I thought I'd find out if my "difficultness" is similar to other women folk out there.

I was aware of Roxane Gay, but besides reading some of her articles and blog entries many years ago, I never read any of her books. So, I'm glad that the situation has been rectified.

I enjoyed this book overall, although, as it's the case with short story collections, I liked some more than others. I didn't care a
...more
Louise Wilson
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Difficult women is a collection of stories. The women in these stories live lives of privilege and poverty. In marriages that are loving and haunted. Where neighbours conform, compete and spy on each other.

Not usually my preference for reading but it's good to try something different and I'm glad I did.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Grove Atlantic and the author Roxane Gay for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
El
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Recommended to El by: The F-Word
I had an opportunity to see Roxane Gay do a few readings from this collection of short stories a couple of weeks ago. I had wanted to go into that event having read more than just her book of essays, Bad Feminist, but it didn't work out. Instead, I had a chance to hear Gay read a few excerpts and stories from this collection in her own voice. And I liked that.

When I got this collection from the library, I expected to enjoy the stories just as much by reading them. I still rather enjoyed the exce
...more
Marilyn C.
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
Difficult Women was dark, sad and shocking to read at times. Roxane Gay has written with complete honesty as she looks into women's lives, maybe not the "ordinary" day to day lives of women, but the deep undercurrent of women's lives where there might be pain, sorrow, regret or deep longings of things in the past. Do not read this if you looking for an uplifting read, as it’s more of a book that will throw hard truths in your face. I may not have enjoyed every story in this book, however, I fell ...more
Heather
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Roxane Gay writes with the kind of honesty I WISH I was brave enough to use in my own writing. She is one of my new favorite authors. Just incredible.
Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ Campbell

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Reviewing anticipated works like these is always difficult, especially if you're reviewing the book before it's been officially published. I'm not sure about others, but I always feel a tremendous amount of pressure - I want to give my honest opinion, but I also want to be as objective as possible and explain, more broadly, what the book is about and who the audience is.



I'd heard stellar things about Roxane Gay's BAD FEMINIST. It's been on
...more
Romie
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think it's the kind of books that, even if you didn't enjoy all the stories, you did understand how important they were. At least, that's how I felt.

It's a beautiful, well-written book, full of raw emotions and feelings. This book is about how deep women love & live & hurt. It's about women loving each other because they are mothers, lovers, daughters, sisters, friends. It's poetic and heartbreaking.

My personal favourite was North Country.
Kudos for the beautiful diversity in this book
...more
Ellie
Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

“He needed to fill the impossible emptiness inside him.” (from “The Sacrifice of Darkness”)

This could be the summation of Roxane Gay’s powerful collection of stories,
Difficult Women. The people in these stories suffer from an impossible emptiness inside them-caused by loss of children, loss of innocence, living in desolate lands both internal and external. Cold worlds. They seek continually to fill this emptiness inside, to warm themselves at the fire of other peopl
...more
Trey
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
** for the stories.
***** for the writing.

'Difficult Women' – difficult stories; difficult reading experience about flawed women, crappy men and messed up lives. With 'Difficult Women', you have a collection of 21 unique short stories, told in explicit, but skillful fashion. Character driven; women taking lead roles (mostly) in graphic narratives that evokes feelings of loss, emptiness, loneliness, depression, outrage, identity, bonds, eccentricities, to name several.

A lot of the stories told in
...more
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Lit Chicks Podcast: Difficult Women 2 4 May 22, 2018 09:24AM  
Femme Trash Book ...: Difficult Women - a discussion with difficult themes 1 3 Apr 06, 2018 10:55AM  
Literary Fiction ...: Discussion: Difficult Women 81 160 Sep 08, 2017 07:01AM  
Spines and Vines : May 2017 - Difficult Women 9 22 May 24, 2017 12:42PM  
62,551 followers
Roxane Gay’s writing has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, West Branch, Virginia Quarterly Review, NOON, The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Rumpus, Salon, The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy culture blog, and many others. She is the co-editor of PANK and essays editor for The ...more
More about Roxane Gay

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“She was smart enough to want more but tired enough to accept the way things were.” 13 likes
“We were young once and then we weren’t.” 8 likes
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