Author Roxane Gay says yes to every assignment

Hunger and Difficult Women author Roxane Gay takes our career questionnaire

Author Roxane Gay says yes to every assignment
[Illustration: Mona Daly]

What’s your best habit, and what’s your worst one?
My worst habit in recent years is missing deadlines, because I say yes to everything. My best habit is that I always follow through on what I say I am going to do and I always do my best.


What do you do when you’re creatively stuck?
Look at art or go to the movies, and definitely step away from the computer.

Is there a buzzword you never want to hear again?

How do you unplug?
The thing I do to relax, other than reading, is playing VR games. I plug in to unplug, I guess.


Is there a book you recommend to everyone?
Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence, because it is a perfect novel.

What’s the advice you’re glad you ignored?
Like many writers, I was often told to write what I know. That’s a good place to start as a writer, but it is not where you should stay.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell [her] to stop hating herself so much. I would tell her that she doesn’t need to do other people’s dirty work by tearing herself down. Hating yourself will never make anyone worthwhile love or even like you.


Do you have a work uniform?
Black T-shirt and dark jeans.

Gay’s Fiction Picks

Do you have a style icon?
Queen Latifah. She always looks incredible and stylish.

What’s always in your bag?
A charger, heartburn medication, a laptop, a book, a Uni-ball pen or two, noise-canceling headphones, and an international adapter.


Do you have a favorite object in your office?
It’s a tie between the ring light for Zoom calls and events and my Sonos speakers so I can blast music.

What is your biggest indulgence?
Art. My wife, who is a collector, got me into it and, like tattoos, you can never get just one.

What’s your favorite form of exercise?
If I ever find a form of exercise I like, let alone deem it my favorite, I will let you know.


What TV show are you mid-binge on?
We’ve been rewatching The West Wing. It’s always interesting to see what an imagined presidency might look like and how idealized it tends to be.

What do you send to congratulate someone?
Expensive, hard-to-find liquors, personalized stationery, or Hermès scarves.

Do you have a mantra?
I am not nearly disciplined enough to have a mantra.