An Untamed State

An Untamed State

by Roxane Gay


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An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

“Once you start this book, you will not be able to put it down. An Untamed State is a novel of hope intermingled with fear, a book about possibilities mixed with horror and despair. It is written at a pace that will match your racing heart, and while you find yourself shocked, amazed, devastated, you also dare to hope for the best, for all involved.”—Edwidge Danticat, author of Breath, Eyes, Memory and The Dew Breaker

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.

“From the astonishing first line to the final scene, An Untamed State is magical and dangerous. I could not put it down. Pay attention to Roxane Gay; she's here to stay.”—Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow and Leaving Atlanta

“[Haiti’s] better scribes, among them Edwidge Danticat, Franketienne, Madison Smartt Bell, Lyonel Trouillot, and Marie Vieux Chavet, have produced some of the best literature in the world. . . . Add to their ranks Roxane Gay, a bright and shining star.”—Kyle Minor, author of In the Devil’s Territory , on Ayiti

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802122513
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 05/06/2014
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 145,990
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Roxane Gay’s writing has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2012 , Best Sex Writing 2012 , Oxford American , American Short Fiction , Virginia Quarterly Review , NOON , The New York Times Book Review , The Rumpus, Salon, The Wall Street Journal ’s Speakeasy culture blog, and many others including her Tumblr, She is the co-editor of PANK and essays editor for The Rumpus. She teaches writing at Eastern Illinois University. She tweets at @rgay.

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An Untamed State 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read part one of the book. The first half was so good that I read it again before moving on to the second half. I was almost scared to read the second half...scared that the main character wouldn't mentally and emotionally survive this ordeal. I finished the book in 3 days and have been recommending it ever since. Powerful and amazing story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the book in a less than a weekend. I could not put it down. A difficult subject that was written so well. This book was recommended to me and I cannot stop recommending it. I would purchase any book that this author writes in the future Brutally honest treatment of a difficult topic. Well developed characters that are hard to forget
ReadAllNightLong More than 1 year ago
No! Just- no! I read this book, thinking it was a true story and excused its flaws and weaknesses with that thought in mind. But it is fiction and it feels contrived. The violence is over the top, and the response of the victim doesn't make any sense, especially after her rescue. In the end, it all feels like the author just squeezed as much bizarre brutality as possible into the story and never considered what the real effect would be on the characters involved. I wish I had never read it. I will never read anything by this author again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a must read. I was enthralled and on the edge of my seat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down, it was so intense.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I find myself thinking about this book a lot. The author captured the strength of a woman during a horrific time perfectly. We are survivors. Also, I thought the author gave a nice glimpse of the many sides of Haiti. Well done!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was highly disappointed with the level of brutality that was part of this book and the victim’s response to her capture before & after. The writer attempt to portrait the main character as a strong woman felt flat and disconnected. Another issue was the victim’s investment in protecting others and then blaming them for not being there for her; it didn’t make sense. Lastly, the end was so badly written who in their right mind would follow their abuser & confronts him after all she allegedly went through by herself. The book felt disjointed. The book or the writer should have prepared a better ending and illustrated a better course of a victim passage as she was recovering from rape!
Yeme More than 1 year ago
I read this book when it was first published. It was an excellent read. At the time of reading this book, I felt the main characters intense and desperate desire to be free of what plagued her. I was captivated by the sheer stripping away of the main characters integrity, feminism and humanity. I recommend this book to others who will open their minds to the story they are about to read.
archetype67 More than 1 year ago
Roxanne Gay takes a hard, unsparing look at race, privilege, violence against women, and how one woman survives the horror of an abduction. Mireille is Haitian, a daughter not of poverty but of wealth and a sheltered life. She admits that she has a fairytale life. That is, until visiting Haiti from their home in Miami, she is abducted by a group of men to gain ransom from her father. At first, she believes that such kidnapping as business transactions and that no serious harm will come to her. That her father would pay the ransom and she would be returned home. But, that belief is soon crushed and the level of cruelty and violence of her captors escalates, and her mental, emotional and physical state deteriorates. The novel is intense and almost exhausting to read - from the impressive opening lines to the closing incident that reminds the narrator that healing from such a life destroying traumatic event is fraught with setbacks and moments that can send her right back to survival mode. While I often read more than one book at a time, I found that I almost had to pick something else up to get a break from the unrelenting nature of the novel, to have the space to process and then return again. The title echoes the nature of the violence, poverty, and corruption of Haiti as well as the mental and emotional state of the narrator throughout the novel. Despite the presentation of poverty setting the dynamic that leads to kidnappings, the perpetrators are not excused, not drawn as sympathetic. That they do not distinguish between the privileged of Haiti whose wealth is from corruption and those who earned their life through hard work argues that the kidnappers talk of the injustice of their world, but are nothing more than opportunistic thugs that use violence and power to gain money and are just as corrupt and immoral as those they rail against. Between the harrowing moments of the kidnapping, we learn the story of Mireille, her family, and her love and marriage to Michael, a Nebraskan farm boy -- Mireille's family calls him Mr. America. This provides the before and after of Mireille's life, the person she was, and the person she was forced to be to survive. The format gives the reader space to breath, to digest, to recover from the relentless destruction of a woman. The novel does not end with her release. The reader follows the days and weeks, the months, and eventually years of Mireille's journey to be whole, to find who she is, to find not just a reason to live, but life worth living. Mireille's climb from the place where she cannot remember her own name or those she once loved because it was easier to survive as 'no one' to place where she feels safe and loved is as brutal a journey as her captivity. Interestingly, it is not the husband, or her own family that serve as her anchor, but her mother-in-law, Lorraine. Through Mireille's memories, she is portrayed as the negatives of the stereotype of the midwestern farm-wife. All is not as it seems in this novel, nothing is simple, none of the questions it poises have easy answers. Gay's writing isn't lyrical, the novel, not perfect, but both are powerful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's been a long time, since I read a Novel I couldn't stop reading. It took me right along side of Miri as she went through each stage of her life and kidnapping. I cried and could relate to some of her family situations. Emotions were high in this Novel. I very much wanted more when the story ended. Great read!
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LisaAhn More than 1 year ago
This is an unforgettable book. I loved Roxane Gay's writing in Ayiti, and here she is even stronger. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. Mireille, the main character, is powerful and compelling, even when she is most broken. I've never read a character like this, and Gay draws her with such mercy and precision, that Mireille leaps out of the pages and runs across the room. She's one of those characters you don't forget. Ever. I can't say enough to praise this book, the storyline, the characters, the writing. Phenomenal.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a well written story. A powerful voice on sexual violence against women for political/economic gains. It is a story that could be told anywhere into today's climate. While the book is a work of fiction it rings true for some many women.