Whether she鈥檚 making you giggle as she聽waxes poetic about Rihanna鈥檚聽terrible acting in Battleship,聽or she鈥檚 the reason you鈥檙e sobbing your eyes out while聽devouring her debut novel,聽An聽Untamed State, there鈥檚 no denying聽Roxane Gay is a powerful writer. And, of course, it鈥檚 no surprise that she鈥檚 an equally voracious reader.聽This month, she鈥檚 chatting with聽Book of the Month, a literary monthly subscription box delivering聽newly released books to its members, about the new reads she鈥檚 enjoying, her fascination with Kim Kardashian, balancing her social media presence and more.


Book of the Month: You tweet about the Kardashians a lot. What about them fascinates you?

Roxane Gay: My interest in the Kardashians is fairly new. Ever since Blac Chyna infiltrated the dynasty and flipped the script on how the family operates and uses the media, I鈥檝e just wanted to know more. It鈥檚 also intriguing to see how people who are famous for being famous make that work in the longer term. Everything about them is consumeristic and aspirational. I cannot look away.

BOTM: We鈥檙e featuring Shrill by Lindy West,聽who is a big fan of yours. Any advice for your Book of the Month contemporary, who, like you, deals with internet trolls on a daily basis?

RG: I am pretty sure Lindy West could teach me and everyone else who has an online presence a thing or two about trolls. She is masterful in dealing with online harassment.


BOTM: In Bad Feminist you talk about Vanessa Williams being an early role model for you. Who鈥檚 your current role model?

RG: I have a lot of admiration for Zadie Smith, as of late. (Photo via聽Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty)

BOTM: You also talk about Sweet Valley High and your disappointment with the 鈥10 Years Later鈥 refresh. How do you feel about pop culture reboots like The Full House remake?

RG: These reboots are generally trying to capitalize on nostalgia. If they are well done, I鈥檓 all for it, but they are rarely well done.聽Also, I wasn鈥檛 disappointed with the Sweet Valley Confidential refresh! I loved it for the trash it was.

BOTM: You鈥檝e said that you鈥檙e shy but also have this huge social media following and are on a very public platform now. How do you reconcile the shyness with this public persona you now have?

RG: It is very easy to be the boldest version of myself online because there is a safety in that remove. I am the same person online as offline, but it is far less awkward for me to engage with other people online because it only requires words. I am a writer. I know how to use words. In person, I don鈥檛 know; it鈥檚 just more challenging.


BOTM: Your new book is coming out 鈥斅Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body 鈥斅爄n which you discuss your relationship with food and your body, as well as the larger cultural conversation around body image. Why did you feel compelled to write this book? What do you want readers to get out of it?

RG: I wrote Hunger because I was thinking about my body and how my body became big, and I wanted to write about that, the why of my body as well as the experience of having an unruly body in a culture that pretty much demands that we discipline our bodies to conform to certain, narrow beauty standards.


BOTM: You鈥檝e written an adult novel, a collection of essays and a memoir, and you have a short story collection and a Young Adult novel on the horizon. Your work encompasses so many forms and genres, even bouncing between fiction and nonfiction. What about switching between all of these avenues appeals to you? What do you get out of writing fiction versus nonfiction? What is your favorite genre or form to write?

RG: I just love to write and I am not going to ever constrain myself by thinking I can only work in one genre. The only genre I don鈥檛 write is poetry. I鈥檓 simply not good at that, and it鈥檚 fine. There鈥檚 a lot of amazing poetry out in the world that I get to enjoy. Working across different genres allows me to grow as a writer and it keeps me engaged in the work. In fiction, I get to control the world and write into that world as I see fit. In nonfiction, I get to comment on the world as it is and imagine the better place it could become. My favorite genre to write is fiction, which is and will always be my first love.

BOTM: Were you ever a Book of the Month member growing up?

RG: I was part of this book club Harlequin had where they would send you four books a month. I read a lot of romance novels.


BOTM: How does it feel to be a Book of the Month Guest Judge?

RG: It feels awesome. I love being able to talk about beautiful books, and my selection this month, The Veins of the Ocean, happens to be written by Patricia Engel, a writer I greatly enjoy.

Is聽The Veins of the Ocean聽on your book list? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know!

(Featured image via聽Frederick M. Brown/Getty)