Recommended short story: The Mark of Cain by Roxane Gay

She needs no introductions, but certainly deserves one – one simply can’t barge into something so good, so I will tread softly.

Someone once told me a story about a budding editor. He received a submission by someone then known mostly within the American writing sphere and Black Twitter community of woke-and-witty-as-fuck women and girls. The young man read one essay. It didn’t speak to him. He turned the book down.

Fast forward to 2017. I recently met the now fully-fledged editor. He told me of how he never forgot the one that “got away”. And how could he? Gay herself is inescapable: the book went on to be published as Bad Feminist back when the term was still widely viewed as a slur or sub-cultural appendage, thus making the title tautological; superfluous; redundant… i.e. witty as fuck.

Roxane Gay is now one of the most prominent cultural commentators and writers of our generation (or the one preceding it depending on whether it’s a day when my sisters are in that mood). “The Mark of Cain” is one of the stories from her brand new short story collection “Difficult Women” (January 2017). From the title alone, irreverent as ever, you know you will not be let down. It is Gay after all.

“The Mark of Cain” is but one of the 21 totally arresting and finely woven long and short narratives of womanhood presented by Gay. Difficult Women takes on fantastic, surreal, and most importantly, atypical dimensions. “21” stories seems like no accident to me: it’s the age of legal maturity in the USA for anything leisurely, the point by which one may truly be called a woman to the eyes of the law.

Gay scratches the itch of female representation, depicting our multitudes (perhaps my favourite word of late 2016, and one I hope to see more of, in writing and in practice, in 2017). Economical, visceral, and unputdownable, “The Mark of Cain” is one of the stories from Difficult Women that had me on the edge of my seat. Uncomfortable and challenged, each page takes us further against the grain. READ The Mark Of Cain HERE


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