Essayist, novelist, columnist, and now memoirist Roxane Gay recently spent some time with us here at Goodreads for an authors@goodreads event where she discussed one of the highest-rated books of summer, her Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. The book describes how a gang rape when she was a child led to her lifelong struggle with her body, and in particular her weight. This brutal and honest memoir was the most popular book of June in any genre with an average rating of 4.5 stars.
While at Goodreads headquarters, she chatted with us about both writing about her weight and how she’s been dealing with obtrusive questions about it while on her book tour. The ever candid and charming author didn’t just answer our burning questions, she also answered dozens of reader questions sent to the Ask the Author portion of her Goodreads profile as well.
Here are some of our favorites.
Alicia asks: Which do you most prefer: writing fiction or writing non-fiction? Also, do you think that one or the other has played a more significant role in teaching you about yourself or your world?
Roxane Gay: I enjoy writing fiction most because I get to lose myself in the worlds I create. Nonfiction has played a significant role in teaching me about myself and the world because it has helped me find my voice and figure out how best to use it. Nonfiction has also opened my eyes to so much of what we need to do to make the world a better place.
Lori asks: Do you listen to music when writing or do you prefer quiet? If you do listen to music when writing what/who do you listen to?
Roxane Gay: It all depends. Sometimes I watch TV, other times I listen to music. It’s rare that I will write to silence. I listen to all sorts of things, not any one specific genre or piece of music.
Roxane Gay: My favorite TV show of all time is Alias. I am currently enjoying Law & Order SVU and Empire.
Makenzie asks: I am passionate about writing on feminist and social justice issues and am curious as to how you stay focused amongst people who criticize so deeply or don’t understand. Do you find it difficult to find journals that will publish this type of work?
Roxane Gay: There is a good amount of demand for writing about social justice. I stay focused by remembering what I’m trying to do with my writing—create change. In terms of criticism, I listen to that which will help me become a better writer or thinker.
Jean asks: Do you think that Middle-Eastern Muslim women should be included in Feminism? Most of the white feminists that I’ve met said it is impossible to include Muslim women in feminism since Islam is a sexist religion.
Roxane Gay: Most of the white feminists you’ve met are profoundly ignorant. All women must be included in the feminist project. Any feminism that does not include all people who identify as women, is trash.
Libby asks: How are you so gloriously, magically, never-endingly productive?
Roxane Gay: I live in the middle of nowhere, I don’t have children, I’m an insomniac, I love writing, I’m motivated, writing is often self-medication.
Byju asks: Roxane, can you explain what you mean by ‘writing is often self-medication’?
Roxane Gay: By that I mean I write to soothe myself when I am feeling angry or sad or frustrated. I write instead of, say, drinking to excess or taking drugs.
Alex asks: If you could read one book for the rest of your life, which book would you choose?
Have a question for Roxane Gay? Send it to her here.
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posted by Cybil
on July, 12