Inciting Joy: Essays


Product Details

$27.00  $25.11
Algonquin Books
Publish Date
5.6 X 8.3 X 1.0 inches | 0.75 pounds

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About the Author

Ross Gay is the New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Delights: Essays and four books of poetry. His Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude won the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Award; and Be Holding won the 2021 PEN America Jean Stein Book Award. He is a founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a non-profit, free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project. Gay has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He teaches at Indiana University.


"This is instantly one of my favorite books ever. A wondering-aloud to which I will be returning often, and a brilliant manifesto making a case for joy as a thing which is as complex and rigorous as it is lovely and free. In that sneaky way Ross Gay has of lovingly disarming you before getting you to dwell in rooms of your heart you'd left vacant, Inciting Joy uses its titular emotion as a window into sorrow and rage, into gifts and loss, into the tricky business of being alive."--Eve L. Ewing, author of Ghosts in The Schoolyard, Electric Arches, and Marvel Comic's Ironheart series
"Ross Gay is as insightful and lyrical as an essayist as he is as a poet. His essays are as trenchant as they are moving, finding in the minutiae of life the grand themes of human existence."
--Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize-winner and author of War is Force that Gives Us Meaning and America: The Farewell Tour
"Warm, candid ... breezy and soulful... A pleasingly digressive and intimate memoir in essays."--Kirkus Reviews
"Ross Gay's work throws off so much light, I've often wondered if it was powered by a superior energy source. He has done something new and beautiful with Inciting Joy. He has sunk a bioluminescent depth-charge into our time, one which peers into the whole sea of experience around us: revealing it full of connection, mystery and a longing for relief."--John Freeman, founder of Freeman's literary magazine and editor of The Penguin Book of the Modern American Short Story
"In this masterful, raw, and stirring collection of essays, Ross Gay has once again coaxed his readers to awaken to our full humanity. There is no way to dance through these vivid and skillful recollections of life's truest moments--planting a community orchard, witnessing a loved one pass away, eating your first fresh fig--without emerging misty eyed at the hallowed beauty of what it is to be alive. Ross Gay helps us to understand that our joy and pain are fundamentally tangled up with each other, and when we can invite sorrow close to share a proverbial cup of tea, that is when our deepest joy is incited. In caring for one another, in paying attention to what we mourn and love in common, in emulating the generosity of the garden, in inhabiting our sacred and unpayable debt to the earth--therein lies our kinship and the possibility of collective joy and liberation. Inciting Joy will make you gasp in wonderment as your truest truths are laid bare, and you will go back and reread the lines over and over, whispering, 'This, yes, this!'"--Leah Penniman, co-founder of Soul Fire Farm and author of Farming While Black
"Ross Gay has a single-minded focus: making the world a better place. ...energetic... full-length essays that showcase the breadth of his interests and the vibrancy of his prose. ... a consistently uplifting book. This lively set of 14 essays from a talented poet considers how to bring more joy to our lives."
--Shelf Awareness
"With language that skips along like a game of hopscotch, Inciting Joy promises to deliver heart-swelling insights into life, death and the joyful necessity of interdependence."
--BookPage, Most Anticipated Books of the Fall
"Gay's poetically influenced prose is nothing short of joyful. Blending the serious and the playful, this essay collection incites joy with writings about a wide range of actions and places . . . his essays have a through line of offering the deeply personal and speaking truth to power . . . Gay's pedagogy, explained in detail, disrupts the systems that are baseline incongruent with joy, as does his writing, in every sentence."

"Written over the course of the pandemic, Gay ponders joy, defining it less as the absence of sorrow and rather as our response to it."
"The award-winning poet considers joy - how we incite it, how we can expand it and most importantly, how we experience it by caring for others - in this timely collection that defies divisiveness."--USA Today
"Another thoughtful, compassionate, and timely essay collection that focuses on the deeper meaning of joy. It's a tender and reflective collection that is sure to sit with you long after you finish."--BuzzFeed
"In a series of essays on such disparate themes as skateboarding, grief, pickup basketball, cover songs, orchards, death, and school, Gay expounds on his thesis, beautifully stated in the book's introduction: joy, emerging from our shared human experience of sorrow, can provoke new solidarities, leading to love, to survival, to change that looks like shared flourishing."--Ploughshares
"Ross Gay has become a sort of pied piper for joy. He studies it in his own life, and beautifully writes both of its complexity--how one must welcome sorrow to truly feel joy's expansive width--and of its simplicity..."--BOMB Magazine
"Gay profoundly demonstrates that not only could he write about joy, perhaps we all should be thinking about it, pursuing it, creating it, inciting it in our lives. These essays are intellectually rigorous... His prose is constantly engaging..."
"Gorgeously written and timely pieces... Full of energy, curiosity, and compassion, Inciting Joy is essential reading from one of our most brilliant writers. Pick this up to feel lighter and more gracious all around."--Book Riot
"These essays...clearly evidence his love of language, wordplay, and rhythm. [They] offer a new, thought-provoking way to view our society and future."--San Francisco Book Review
"These beautiful, insightful essays explore racism, death, the joy of being in a community and interacting with the natural world."?
"Each piece reinforces the theme that when we look out for one another, the outcome is joy."
"Inciting Joy is a book that will break your heart. Ross Gay will break your heart. He will break it and advocate for breaking it over and over. Why? So we can choose our life, our survival, our full humanity. Inciting Joy is brilliant because it's not just a book; it's proof that the way we carve out room for joy is by acknowledging our constant teacher: sorrow."--Ada Limón, U.S. Poet Laureate
"A raucous affair, with dancing, fabulous covers of all your favorite songs, tons of food, a backyard full of folks... and all their sorrows, too... these essays are arguments embedded in stories that stretch like rubber bands around the topics of laughter, basketball, skateboarding, gardening, time, dying, music, gratitude, and dancing. It's impossible to read them without feeling a shift in your awareness of joy and its unexpected possibilities."--The Boston Globe
"A gift that's meant to be shared... inspires us to look beyond the miseries of our era to envision a more welcoming future, Gay... offer[s] a concept of joy akin to what Audre Lorde conceptualized in her essay 'Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power.' Get yourself a copy of Inciting Joy, then gift yourself the great pleasure of giving it away."--The Washington Post
"[Inciting Joy] offers a rigorous and candid examination, or "Incitements," of what it means to pay attention and study what brings us joy, even as we understand and accept its entanglement of sorrows. It's a manifesto, a movement - a magnificent showcase of Ross's descriptive and digressive powers - and at its thrumming, galloping core, it's "a practice of survival."--Poets & Writers
"In essays that are lyrical, pensive, and surprising, poet Gay sheds light on all the places joy can lurk [...] Gay's a remarkable writer, and the collection makes for a spellbinding meditation on the ways joy deepens and grows in the company of grief, fear, and loss."--Publishers Weekly (Best Book of 2022: Nonfiction)
"He is many things--an award-winning essayist and poet, but also a community gardener and former basketball coach--and these roles are the details that till the soil of what blooms in his writing. Gay exudes a generosity of spirit. It's true in person and on the page, evidenced in his newest collection of essays, Inciting Joy."--The Rumpus (November Book Club Selection)
"Stunning...Gay's curiosity is present on every page and his precise yet playful prose sparkles...This resonant, vivid meditation shouldn't be missed."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Powerful. Perhaps the highest praise I can offer for Inciting Joy is sparked a delightful conversation about the wealth of stories, characters, memories and subjects the book undertakes, building upon one another to create such a rich biodiversity on the page that I often found myself reading passages multiple times just to make sure I'd absorbed every detail."?--BookPage
"Gay is a treasure, and his latest offering will delight his fans as well as those new to his work."--Library Journal