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 own 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.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
Publication Date: June 13, 2017 by HarperCollins
The story of my life is wanting, hungering, for what I cannot have or, perhaps, wanting what I dare not allow myself to have.
Roxane Gay may insist throughout her memoir that she is not courageous or brave, but I would beg to differ. In Hunger, Gay has chosen to lay bare the darkest parts of her life to open up a dialogue about how things like gender roles and sexual violence can have such a long-lasting impact on a person’s life in ways many of us can’t even begin to imagine.
This is what most girls are taught-that we should be slender and small. We should not take up space. We should be seen and not heard, and if we are seen, we should be pleasing to men, acceptable to society. And most women know this, that we are supposed to disappear, but it’s something that needs to be said, loudly, over and over again, so that we can resist surrendering to what is expected of us.
Roxane Gay opens up about the brutal gang rape she experienced when she was barely a teenager and how food and the act of eating became therapeutic in dealing with the trauma. It’s stunning and also heartbreaking to learn that she did not allow anyone else to know what happened to her for so many years. And yet, it’s also not surprising since we live in a culture where victims of rape are often blamed and rapists protected.
I am weary of all our sad stories – not hearing them, but that we have these stories to tell, that there are so many.
There were entire chapters in Hunger that resonated so strongly with me and my own life experience. I may not have much in common with Roxane Gay, but yet at the same time, I do – because we are both women and face so many of the same societal struggles. Gay’s more universal message combined with excerpts of her own personal life experiences makes for an extremely powerful book that I only wish everyone would read and learn from.