Kink, a new anthology of fiction edited by R.O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell, explores the world of sexual desire in a way not often seen in literary fiction. Some of today’s most talented and acclaimed writers, such as Roxane Gay, Melissa Febos, and Carmen Maria Machado, delve into topics of love, dominance, submission, BDSM, and more, with stories about women, people of color, and queerness as it relates to sex and desire. The book gives voice to these characters in a way that breaks the boundaries of taboo, celebrating sexuality in both daring and moving ways.
In a time of social distancing, Kink also serves as a much-needed reminder of physical intimacy and touch. It’s an important read, no doubt, but it’s also worth noting that Kink is a fun read. As Gay points out to me, “Things are pretty depressing right now in the world, so I think it’s important to remember that not everything is terrible.”
In a conversation with ZORA, Kwon and Gay discuss the idea of kink for women of color and the ways that this book, aside from being a literary exploration of sex, is simply fun.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
ZORA: I wanted to start by asking what drew you to wanting to publish an anthology about kink and write these stories?
R.O. Kwon: The book came about because I had published a story in Playboy. It’s a version of the story that appears in the anthology, and I was really anxious before the story was published. I have a lot of trouble talking about sex in any public way, which has made editing this or putting this book out into the world especially interesting. But [when the story published] I got so many lovely emails. People just said, “Thank you. It helped me feel less alone.” And I just had the thought: Wouldn’t it be so wonderful if stories like this could exist in a book that could then exist in a library?
Roxane Gay: I thought it was a really interesting project. I am a fan of Reese’s work, and I have written quite a lot of fiction that is erotic in nature, so I just thought, yes, I could pull this off. I think it would be a good fit. And there are so many incredible contributors, so it’s…