Wednesday, February 21, 2018

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

ebook Edition ~ Fiction
I finished reading the novel An Untamed State by Roxane Gay earlier this afternoon and it is the first work written by Roxane Gay that I have actually read... I've had the eBook edition of An Untamed State in my 'to be read' pile on my Kindle for roughly 2 years before I decided to finally read it. I had been putting off reading A Untamed State as I'd heard that it is a difficult novel to read due to the nature of the events that take place in the novel itself.

So, let's start from the beginning. I am really glad that I read An Untamed State by Roxane Gay. I completely and fully understand the accolades that Roxane Gay receives for her writing prowess as An Untamed State is skillfully and solidly written. There isn't a thing I would change about the way this novel is written... The characters, storytelling, plot, themes, pace, flow, and so on are amazingly well done!! An Untamed State is a captivating novel from start to finish. 

As much as I truly enjoyed reading An Untamed State by Roxane Gay, it is a difficult novel to read due to the nature of what happens to the leading character, Mireille Duval Jameson... If you are at all squeamish reading about a violent kidnapping, brutal mental, emotional, and physical assault and rape/gang rape + the aftermath of moving forward and putting one's life back together, then maybe this isn't the novel for you to read.

I think Roxane Gay does an exceptional job writing about privilege and the juxtaposition of crushing poverty.  Gay touches upon the theme of fairy tales and that fairy tales can easily be destroyed. There is no sugarcoating what happens to Mireille Duval Jameson's character in this novel. Gay paints a very multifaceted portrait that not only shows how the kidnapping effects Mireille, but how it effects her entire family. 

It took me ten days to read An Untamed State by Roxane Gay. It's a novel I could have easily finished reading much sooner. However, I found myself needing time to process what I was reading... Plus, other activities in real life cropped up that need to be addressed as well. 

So, far An Untamed State by Roxane Gay is my favorite read for the month of February 2018. 

As a fun side note, last year, I was lucky enough to hear/see Roxane Gay speak at the 2017 Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, California. Her talk was amazing!! I was able to have Roxane Gay sign two of her books for me. So, now I have Difficult Women and Bad Feminist to read by Roxane Gay as well. I look forward to reading both books.

The following is a plot summary for An Untamed State by Roxane Gay from Amazon:
Roxane Gay is a powerful new literary voice whose short stories and essays have already earned her an enthusiastic audience. In An Untamed State, she delivers an assured debut about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over thirteen days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.
Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.
An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a willful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed State establishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent.
I am giving An Untamed State by Roxane Gay a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!


  1. Very well put. I have been putting off reading this one for the reasons you state: the brutal parts of what happens to the main character. It sounds like the quality of the writing is what got you through. I will read it soon.

    1. Yes, Roxane Gay's writing got me through this novel. Plus, I felt like Roxane Gay had a point she was trying to make when she was incorporating the violence into An Untamed State that made me feel like she wasn't adding the violence just to be adding the violence for the sake of violence.

  2. If you've read Hunger you'll know how autobiographical parts of this story are. Still think I'll have to be in a good space to read this. Cheers

    1. No, I haven't read Hunger. An Untamed State is the first book I've read by Roxane Gay.