A Year in the Life: 2019

Roxane Gay’s year of reading

Roxane Gay
Gay Mag
Published in
8 min readFeb 5, 2020

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‘Piles of French Novels’ (1887) by Vincent van Gogh, oil on canvas. Credit: VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images

TThis was a year where I felt like I didn’t get anything done. I didn’t write much and when I did I wasn’t very happy with what I wrote. I didn’t read much. I travelled too much. Toni Morrison died and I reflected on her legacy. I wrote a comic series called The Banks about a family seeking vengeance and a payday that will change their lives. I had a great meal at Little Dom’s. I wrote about how I have to steal time to write these days. I profiled Melina Matsoukas on the eve of her film debut. I profiled Kerry Washington. I wrote a short story called “Immediate Family.” I made some but not enough progress on a YA novel and my next nonfiction book, How to Be Heard. They are coming along, I guess. I co-wrote a graphic novel that will be out in October 2020. I started no fewer than thirty essays and short stories that are in various states of disarray because the words simply aren’t coming these days. I have to grind everything out and worry that all my best writing is behind me because I can’t seem to connect to that magic that usually carries me on the page.

I taught a class at Yale on writing trauma and worked with some incredible students. I wrote a lot of recommendation letters. I presented Jordan Peele with an award and after the ceremony Beck started playing some songs and Chris Martin was randomly there and he jumped on…

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Roxane Gay
Gay Mag

I write. I want a tiny baby elephant. If you clap, I clap back. Books.: Ayiti, Untamed State, Bad Feminist. Difficult Women, World of Wakanda 1–5, Hunger.