"Little word space was spent on the girl, the child," she writes. Instead, the focus was on how the men's lives would be changed, the impact on the town, whether the boys would be able to return to school, where the girl's mother was at the time of the attack. "As a writer who is also awoman, I increasingly feel that writing is apolitical act whether I intend it to be or not," she writes, because we live in a culture in which thisarticle "is permissible and publishable. Iamtroubled by how we have allowed such intellectual distance between violence and the representation of violence. We talk about rape, but we don't carefully talk about rape." Gay was determined that there would be no titillation in her novel, which she wrote over four months in 2010. "I always knew that I was going to write the violence explicitly, without stylising it," she says. "I wanted to treat violence as information, and so how do I give that information to the reader without being gratuitous?" An Untamed State is the story of Mireille Duval Jameson, aMiami-based lawyer who travels to Haiti, with her husband Michael and their son Christophe, to visit her wealthy parents, before being kidnapped for 13 days and brutalised by agroup of men. "There were some days where I would write scenes, particularly the first scene where Mireille is raped," Gay says, "and it was just like, 'Something is wrong with you to come up with some nonsense like this!' It was hard, but it felt necessary." She has been stunned by the response, which includes those warm reviews, its placing on "best of" lists and the praise of other authors, among them Sheila Heti and Ayelet Waldman . For Gay, writing is a way "to think through whatit means to be in this world.
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