Roxane Gay is a powerful new literary voice whose short stories and essays have already earned her an enthusiastic audience. In An Untamed State, she delivers an assured debut about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over 13 days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.
Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.
An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a willful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places.
©2014 Roxane Gay. Recorded by arrangement with Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
Single white female. MFA candidate in poetry at NC State University. Instructor of freshman composition. Mother of two beautiful cats.
"Untamed State" is beautifully, skillfully written and narrated. Roxane Gay creates such vivid, living--dying--characters that you're hooked almost from the beginning in SPITE of (not due to) the graphic subject matter. Although there's a lot of unspeakable violence throughout the novel, it is handled tastefully; you get the sense that the narrator is telling you this because it is necessary for you to hear, and for her to tell. You are not left feeling like a voyeur.
Robin Miles does a wonderful job with the narration. I'm no expert, but it seemed to me that her accents and character voices were right on target.
Fair warning: This book is not for the faint of heart, and it is EXTREMELY triggering. For me, personally, listening was sort of re-traumatizing, but also therapeutic. Listen at your own risk, and make sure there is at least one person you know whom you can talk to if necessary.
An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay, is the story of a Haitian American lawyer who is kidnapped for ransom while visiting her parents in Haiti. Her father refuses to pay the ransom and her kidnappers turn ugly.
Couldn't stop listening. Despite horrific scenes, there is no gratuitous violence. The violence presented is necessary to understand the gradual breakdown of the heroine's spirit and her resulting PTSD. In addition Gay tempers the horror with flashbacks, perhaps because she understands just how much brutalization the reader can take at a time. The second half of the book deals with her PTSD and her fight to recover. (Not a spoiler - you are immediately aware that she is eventually freed.)
It is an amazing book which I highly recommend.
Yes. I listened to it quickly, over the course of a few days, because the story drove me to continue. I wanted to find out what happened; I wanted Mireille to be safe again even though I wasn't sure she ever could be. I would like to listen to it again, a little more slowly, to soak in Gay's prose.
It's very thoughtful. You understand why each character does what they do, even as you condemn most of them. It's not easy subject matter, but Gay treats it with respect.
The restrained emotion in the narrators voice was pitch perfect. She doesn't overshadow the story, but brings just enough feeling to punctuate it, drive home the most devastating and hopeful realizations and lines of dialogue.
Like another reviewer, I'm about half way through and now I'm skipping through chapters to see what happens. My problems. To describe the protagonist as "strong willed," as the synopsis does, understates the matter. She needs to be "strong willed" while in captivity but the way she behaves in the long and frequent discussions of her family and husband is quite irritating. Spoiled and insensitive to others, she is quick to pick up on insults and not a forgiving person.. The narrator is ok. Maybe it's the character she is reading, but the emphasis she puts on dialogue I find too strident.
It’s extremely well written. It’s fluid, strong and its voice is loud and clear. What it spoke to me was the violence against women,violence’s lasting trauma while also addressing the difference of the sexes.
Some will read this book and come away with it being a story about a lawyer vacationing with her husband in Haiti who is kidnapped and abused. Others will come away with the survival of a woman who was violently stripped of her self-worth. The core of this book is in the eye of reader.
It’s a hard book to read for the violent incident is brutal and takes up better than one third of the book. Call me Pollyanna, if you must, but I read for entertainment. This book was not enjoyable - nor should it be. One does not have to look far to see unrestrained assaults happening on a variety of levels.Paying to listen to an extra eleven and an a half hours of turbulence, no matter how well written, was not the entertainment I was looking for. I don't feel that I am enlightened from reading it, nor will this story be in my thoughts for a long time.
Now how does one rate a book like this?
Don't know how I would feel about this book in paper but I know the narrator captured me in this book. She kept me wanting to hear the end.
This story is very intense from the very first chapter until the end. Get ready.
I am left in a stunned silence. There is nothing beautiful to be found in a kid napping and rape tale but Gay brings such emotion and captivates the reader to stay in the story. Haunting yet the story must be read.
Semi retired computer field engineer.
I think the reason is that some books are just "not a fit". I will explain why this is not a fit for me. I rarely choose not to finish a book.
On the surface, the book seemed to be something I would be interested in. The tension and excitement of a kidnapping. New location - Haiti.
I think my disconnect is with what the substance of the book is really about. Yes, the author does cover the thriller aspect of being kidnapped from the victim's point of view. There is the emotional / physical story between her and her captors. The rest of, bulk of, the insipidly redundantly pounded to death story of her relationship with her husband, is getting on my nerves.
The descriptions of Haiti and it's culture are also pretty good, but that topic is overdone now at this point as well.
I am about half way through the book, I am throughly bored if not irritated. This is becoming a "romance novel" with a small bit of 'edge' for me. Not what I was looking for.
I have no problem with a love story at all. And on occasion, I read or listen to a love story, but this relationship, although fairly well described, has long ago exhausted this aspect of the story. I have read/listened to many combined thriller/love stories that have done a far better job. Sorry Ms. Gay
The narrator does a great job for the most part. No concerns there to speak of.
Everything about this book is great. The narration is great. Robin Miles has a great reading voice and is able to change the tone, reflection, and volume to bring out each character's personality. She did a great job even when she didn't pronounce some of the creole words correctly. The story is compelling and pulls on your emotional strings and it is believable. I'm of Haitian decent and have visited family in Haiti a number of times and I can say that this book is on point with being American born, having Haitian parents and the combination of love and hate one can have for Haiti. A must read.
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