Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay (Book Review)

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My body is a cage. My body is a cage of my own making. I am still trying to figure my way out of it. I have been trying to figure a way out of it for more than twenty years.
— Roxan Gay, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

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A life of "hunger"

Roxane Gay is not shy about her feelings, at least not in writing. She is a frequent commentator on pop culture and has become a driving force in creating a literary world enriched with inclusion. I got to know her work through her 2015 publication, Bad Feminist. From there I have followed her book tours, writing engagements, and social media. While her writing has always been a reflection of her life, Hunger gets even more personal. 

This collection of essays is about existing in a world that hates fat people. She opens up about her life, and how she was violently sexually assaulted as a young girl. Determined to never be hurt again, she begins to make herself undesirable, which she decides is fatness. She speaks to her experiences in her body, and how others treat her body in public. She also comments on how our collective perceptions of fatness (whether in our language, our media, or how we interact with complete strangers) hurt those around us.


Roxane Gay (J ay Grabiec from Google Images)

Roxane Gay (Jay Grabiec from Google Images)

We all hunger for something

More than anything, this is a book of confessions. I wasn't prepared for the revelations, which made for a challenging read. I don't know Ms. Gay personally, but I follow her work. The book was delayed and at the time it seemed like a thing that happens. Now that I've read it, when she says she didn't want to write it, it makes perfect sense. This is some hard shit. It's like watching someone covered in bandaids rip them all off over and over again.  

Gay has spent the last 20 years being fat, and she is done having her size dictate her worth. She is an impressive writer, her words so honest, they sometimes sting. But that honesty comes at the price of her pain. 

Her hunger.

She kept coming back to that, over and over. How she craved a certain kind of love, how she craved a certain type of food, how she craved a certain type of pain. She would say that she has spent the past 20 years hungering for all the things she cannot have. Of course, I believe that she should be able to have anything she wants, but I know it is not that simple. 

I am thankful for the opportunity to have read this book and would recommend it. I don't want to say I enjoyed it- because I didn't. It's not the kind of book you finish with an air of joy and happiness. I am enraged by her past and the horrible things done to her. But she gave her readers a chance to understand ways we could do better in the fight of size discrimination. 




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About the Author

Black & Bookish is the brainchild of Antoinette Scully, educator and lover of all things bookish. She is on a quest to fill your bookshelves with beloved authors of the African Diaspora. When she's not hanging out on line, she's living it up as the mother of two rambunctious girls and wife of a local filmmaker.