Book Review: ‘Opinions’ by Roxane Gay

A Thought-Provoking Exploration of Contemporary Challenges and Diverse Perspectives

Book Title: Opinions: A Decade of Arguments, Criticism and Minding Other People’s Business
Author: Roxane Gay
Publisher: Corsair
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-1472158642
Date Published: Oct. 3, 2023
Price: INR 556

Opinions by Roxane Gay Book Cover

BookReview

Roxane Gay’s latest essay collection, “Opinions,” offers a decade’s worth of insightful commentary from publications like The New York Times and The Guardian. With candour and conviction, Gay explores diverse topics, from gender politics to racial issues, providing readers with a compelling journey through her perspectives on contemporary challenges.

The collection, organized into themed sections like “Man Problems” and “Civic Responsibilities,” showcases Gay’s broad interests. She addresses pressing social issues, offering guidance on expressing opinions and reflecting on her experiences counseling young women and advising new graduates facing seemingly hopeless conditions.

A substantial portion of “Opinions” focuses on gender politics, delving into personal stories of sexual assault and Gay’s evolving views on abortion. Her anger is contextualized through these struggles, shedding light on the root causes of women’s difficulties.

Race is a central theme, with Gay’s cultural criticism spanning a decade, emphasizing the tragic loss of Black lives, such as Michael Brown’s. She calls for a collective refusal to stay silent against systemic racism, advocating for tangible change.

Beyond feminism and race, “Opinions” explores Roxane Gay’s journey with sexuality, from coming out as a lesbian to identifying as bisexual. She underscores the importance of finding welcoming spaces, like Pride events, for individuals with shared experiences.

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The book confronts the question of “Now what?” by urging young people not to succumb to complacency but to imagine the impossible and embrace discomfort for positive transformation. This advice catalyzes change, acknowledging the power of imagination in shaping a better future.

While lacking a tightly defined thesis on the purpose of opinion writing, Gay’s approach of holding space for diverse perspectives becomes evident through the essays. She skillfully transforms mundane topics into profound meditations on relationships and cultural expectations, as seen in her standout essay on Will Smith’s Oscars slap. In “Opinions,” Roxane Gay invites readers to view the world through her eyes, challenging preconceptions and fostering a deeper understanding of contemporary issues.

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