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Bestselling author and cultural icon Roxane Gay is no stranger to trauma. As a young girl, she was the victim of a horrifying act of violence that changed her life and would strongly influence her career as a writer. In her 2017 memoir Hunger, she addressed that trauma head-on, writing with bracing honesty about her body and the ways that food can be used both to bury pain and make oneself disappear. The response to Hunger by some critics who seemed to take perverse pleasure in highlighting Gay’s vulnerabilities was itself a fresh wound. By exploring trauma publicly, Gay suffered more of it.
In her Scribd Original Writing into the Wound, Gay not only talks openly about trauma in her personal life—from her fraught time as an undergraduate at Yale to the stress of returning there as a visiting professor to the fallout from Hunger—but also about the collective trauma we’ve experienced this past year. COVID-19, racial and economic inequality, political strife, imminent environmental disaster, and more: Gay catalogs it all with her trademark candor and authority. To make sense of our pain, she suggests, we need to explore it fully, even as we’re still in the midst of it. Just as she writes her way through her own traumas and coaches her students to do the same, she urges us to take a long, hard look at the wounds we all share: “The world as we knew it has broken wide open. There is a before and an after, and the world will never again be what it once was. That sounds terrifying, but it is an opportunity.”
“To change the world, we need to face what has become of it,” she writes. “To heal from a trauma, we need to understand the extent of it.” Full of wisdom and rage and grace, Writing into the Wound is a remarkable consideration of where we are, and where we need to go, by one of the finest authors and cultural critics of her generation.