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Publisher's Summary

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.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Story

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  • Kat
  • RALEIGH, NC, United States
  • 05-30-14

Beautiful, But Disturbing.

"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.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • BG853
  • Encore, Monroe NJ
  • 09-25-14

Best book I've read in years!

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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Beautiful and devastating

Would you listen to An Untamed State again? Why?

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.

What did you like best about this story?

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.

What does Robin Miles bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Not for the Faint of Heart

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?

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

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Horrible

Ridiculously melodramatic -- both in writing and narration -- improbable, and gratuitously violent. I was barely able to finish. I hated this book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Wendi
  • Overland Park, KS, United States
  • 09-14-17

Why Didn't I Listen To This Long Ago?

I guess the answer to the question of the timing of my listen is irrelevant. The most important thing is, I listened. I melted into the prose of Roxanne Gay and her beautiful, breath taking anger. I was both repulsed and in love with the book's main character who was taken by Haitian thugs and ransomed, leaving her husband, baby and parents fearing the worst.

This book is shocking. Its not for the squeamish. It's raw, it's honest, it's powerful and it's one of the best books I have ever listened to. I loved every minute of it.

-Wendi

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Capturing

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Intense story of mankind's strengths and weaknesses, forgiveness and justice.

This story is very intense from the very first chapter until the end. Get ready.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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So Terribly Beautiful

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Don't think I will finish this one

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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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