Artistically Declined Press
“In the Manner of Water or Light”
“In the Manner of Water or Light” is from Roxane Gay’s debut collection, Ayiti (Artistically Declined Press, 2011). Gay’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Short Stories 2012, NOON, American Short Fiction, Oxford American, The Wall Street Journal, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She is a columnist for Salon, edits various publications, and is an assistant professor of English at Eastern Illinois University.
Gay said this about the origin of her story: I have always been fascinated by the Massacre River and the dark history behind how that river got its name. I wondered what that first night must have been like, when people were terrified and trying to get home, trying to avoid being killed for simply being who they were. Few things feel more terrifying than being hunted. The scenario is nightmarish but I wanted to create something beautiful out of that nightmare, a story that was, perhaps, dark, but also a kind of fairy tale, a myth of how a family begins.
Most of the stories I write are about women and “In the Manner of Water or Light” is no different. I was also interested in the story of three generations of women and how they were shaped by the same moment. There is the grandmother who lived through a terrible night, the daughter who carries the burden of that night and the daughter who tries to tell both of those stories as honestly as she can while figuring out her own story and where she fits within the history of the women who bore her.