Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Roxane Gay

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body
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Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Roxane Gay

‘I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere… I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognized or understood, but at least I was safe.’

In her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as  wildly undisciplined, Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her past-including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life-and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.

With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved-in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.

Review

Roxane Gay is the smart, funny, outspoken author of the bestselling essay collection Bad Feminist and several acclaimed works of fiction. Her new book, Hunger, is a deeply personal memoir that examines how trauma can shape a person’s life and their body. Early in her book, Gay writes: ‘There is the before and the after. Before I gained weight. After I gained weight. Before I was raped. After I was raped.’

Gay’s ‘after’ has been almost 30 years of dealing with the consequences of a savage violence done to her one afternoon in the woods when she was 12 years old. In Hunger, Gay tells of how she turned to food as a solace and an armour, and documents her complicated relationship with her body, her family and her desires. As well as telling her own story, Gay examines how fat bodies are treated by society and the media, and details what it is like to exist in a world that doesn’t accommodate you, a world where ‘the open hatred of fat people is vigorously tolerated and encouraged’.

Hunger is an extraordinarily brave and powerfully honest book. Written in short chapters, it has the intimate, confessional tone of a diary, and every page is unflinching and thought-provoking. Gay writes that ‘people project assumed narratives onto your body and are not at all interested in the truth of your body, whatever that truth might be.’ This memoir is the truth of Roxane Gay’s body, and her story matters. Gay’s story is one of a queer woman, a black woman, a fat woman, a woman who has been the victim of terrible violence, a successful woman, a shy woman, a hungry woman, a warm woman, an ambitious woman. A woman whose work should be read, shared and celebrated.


Nina Kenwood is the marketing manager for Readings.

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