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Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

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From the bestselling author of Bad Feminist: a searingly honest memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself “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 t From the bestselling author of Bad Feminist: a searingly honest memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself “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 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.


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From the bestselling author of Bad Feminist: a searingly honest memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself “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 t From the bestselling author of Bad Feminist: a searingly honest memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself “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 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.

30 review for Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    People see bodies like mine and make their assumptions. They think they know the why of my body. They do not. This is not a story of triumph, but this is a story that demands to be told and deserves to be heard. How do I even begin? If I could give this book a hundred stars, I would. And no, not just because it is important and it is heartbreaking - which it is both - but because Gay is one of the best writers I've ever known. The difficulty was deciding how to use quotes without quoting the wh People see bodies like mine and make their assumptions. They think they know the why of my body. They do not. This is not a story of triumph, but this is a story that demands to be told and deserves to be heard. How do I even begin? If I could give this book a hundred stars, I would. And no, not just because it is important and it is heartbreaking - which it is both - but because Gay is one of the best writers I've ever known. The difficulty was deciding how to use quotes without quoting the whole damn book. I was glued to the pages, completely rapt, as the author used words to create a plethora of emotions and reveal things about the world we live in. This is Gay's memoir from the time she was gang raped at twelve-years-old, to her later need to use food to build a fortress around herself, to her more recent life as a woman categorized as the horrendous phrase "super morbidly obese". Mine is not a success story. Mine is, simply, a true story. It is not a memoir that asks for our pity, or tries to manipulate the reader, it is simply a woman's truth. Gay's self-awareness is painful to read as she talks about experiences in narrow seating on airlines, in movie theatres or restaurants, or at events. The assumptions people make about her; the "concerns" for her health; the ultimate belief that as a woman, a fat woman, she just takes up too much space. You can tell on the rare occasions when an author really lays themselves bare. Gay says the things that many are - for a whole variety of reasons - afraid to say. About rape culture, about fat people, about fat women, and about the fat acceptance movement. She says she prefers "victim" to "survivor" because she has been hurt and has suffered from what happened to her, and she doesn't want to turn into something more empowering than it actually is. I do not want pity or appreciation or advice. I am not brave or heroic. I am not strong. I am not special. I am one woman who has experienced something countless women have experienced. I am a victim who survived. *** He said/she said is why so many victims (or survivors, if you prefer that terminology) don’t come forward. All too often, what “he said” matters more, so we just swallow the truth. We swallow it, and more often than not, that truth turns rancid. It spreads through the body like an infection. It becomes depression or addiction or obsession or some other physical manifestation of the silence of what she would have said, needed to say, couldn’t say. When she talks about the FAM, she considers what many fat-positive women and men are not supposed to say - that it is not a simple matter of deciding that one's fatness is okay and attractive. We do not live in a world that allows for that mentality to take hold instantly, no matter how much we tell ourselves that weight and size do not matter. To be clear, the fat acceptance movement is important, affirming, and profoundly necessary, but I also believe that part of fat acceptance is accepting that some of us struggle with body image and haven’t reached a place of peace and unconditional self-acceptance. It is an incredibly powerful memoir that is made even more so by the raw, uncensored truth Gay brings to it. Gay is not happy with her body, but also angry at the world for being a place that makes her unhappy with her body. She says she is not strong and that she is not brave, but I beg to differ. Writing a book like this in a world like this-- I'd say she's one of the strongest, bravest writers I know. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  2. 3 out of 5

    Roxane

    I haven't written this yet but it will be okay. Food is delicious. UPDATE: I have created a Word File entitled Hunger_Book. I have copied and pasted many Tumblr entries into this file along with some ideas as to how to give the book shape. Food is still delicious. UPDATE 2: This book is still in progress so your low ratings are funny. Is this a motivational tool? It's working.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jaidee

    I cannot jump on the bandwagon of this being a wonderful and empowering book. Sorry folks but as Ms Gay continues to blame the world for her unhappiness there is just no chance for peace. I wish her the very best but I would not recommend this to anybody.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Esil

    Listening to Roxanne Gay read her memoir, Hunger, was like listening to a close friend divulging some of her most painful and intimate memories, thoughts and feelings -- if that friend also happened to be a wickedly good writer. It was uncomfortable, heartbreaking and awe inspiring. I've read other excellent books by women who talk about their own and society's reactions to their large bodies, but Hunger is in its own class -- so smart and real and infinitely nuanced.  I can't think of anything m Listening to Roxanne Gay read her memoir, Hunger, was like listening to a close friend divulging some of her most painful and intimate memories, thoughts and feelings -- if that friend also happened to be a wickedly good writer. It was uncomfortable, heartbreaking and awe inspiring. I've read other excellent books by women who talk about their own and society's reactions to their large bodies, but Hunger is in its own class -- so smart and real and infinitely nuanced.  I can't think of anything more to say about Hunger other than: read it, listen to it, think about how you feel about your own body, think about how you see and think of others. Well, one more thing... Earlier this year, I read Gay's short story collection, Difficult Women. I appreciated the writing, but struggled with the relentless darkness of the stories.  I suspect that if I read it now, I would see the stories in a completely different light, understanding that the violence, fear of violence and self-loathing are extremely personal to Gay -- not just there to shock her readers but born out of her own experiences and emotions.  I also now want to read everything else she has written Again: read it, listen to it!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Whitney Atkinson

    I want to give this a million stars. I want to buy every one of you reading this a copy. WOW. TW: Rape, anorexia/bulimia, fatphobia This doesn’t speak exactly to my experiences—and I wouldn’t expect it to because Roxane and I have very different experiences and personalities—but regardless, this is the most validating book I’ve read to date about being fat. It might be the only book I’ve read about being heavy that confirms that I can be happy with myself just for me, not only when a guy loves me I want to give this a million stars. I want to buy every one of you reading this a copy. WOW. TW: Rape, anorexia/bulimia, fatphobia This doesn’t speak exactly to my experiences—and I wouldn’t expect it to because Roxane and I have very different experiences and personalities—but regardless, this is the most validating book I’ve read to date about being fat. It might be the only book I’ve read about being heavy that confirms that I can be happy with myself just for me, not only when a guy loves me or if I lose weight. It’s as much about fixing harmful institutions of society as it is fixing our own harmful internalizations about being fat. I’m about to cry typing this just because it feels so goddamn good to read a book from someone who knows. Who has the same thoughts I’ve only ever written about in diaries and cried myself to sleep about but she voices so perfectly. Not fitting into chairs. Envying people with eating disorders but knowing how wrong it is. Struggling with how you want to look versus how society wants you to look, and whether you deserve, or can even achieve, either. Roxane wrote this for herself, but it's a book I think everyone should read, regardless of if you can relate to it. It's a necessary book and i'm so glad I read it. This book is a masterpiece. I’m speechless.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elise (TheBookishActress)

    “I do not want pity or appreciation or advice. I am not brave or heroic. I am not strong. I am not special. I am one woman who has experienced something countless women have experienced. I am a victim who survived.” This is one of the most powerful memoirs I have ever read. I’ve realized that Roxane Gay is, while not my style as a fiction author, a fantastic author of nonfiction. Her stories are so emotive, so well-conveyed, so horrifying and so real. And most of all, so incredibly well writt “I do not want pity or appreciation or advice. I am not brave or heroic. I am not strong. I am not special. I am one woman who has experienced something countless women have experienced. I am a victim who survived.” This is one of the most powerful memoirs I have ever read. I’ve realized that Roxane Gay is, while not my style as a fiction author, a fantastic author of nonfiction. Her stories are so emotive, so well-conveyed, so horrifying and so real. And most of all, so incredibly well written. The writing here is just… it’s stunning. Roxane Gay seems to know exactly how to use repitition and exactly how to convey what it is to be in her place - emotions we’ve all felt, but maybe haven’t put to words. It’s horrifying and heartbreaking and beautiful, all at once. I listened to this on audiobook, and the experience somehow made it even more powerful. Gay’s narration perfectly conveys every emotion, perfectly conveys just how horrifying and hard to talk about her experiences are without melodrama or tears. → 🌺 let's talk empathy ← I’m a little horrified by several reviews seeming to imply - or outright state - that Roxane Gay is making her problems worse by wallowing or by “refusing” to open herself to others - or even worse, that she is “choosing” not to heal. Roxane went through a horrible experience, and choosing to heal after an experience like that is work. The fact that she is working so hard at healing now is a testament to her strength. It is insane to me that anyone could read this book and have the immediate reaction “well, she was the one with a trauma-created eating disorder, so obviously she’s choosing not to heal!!” This response is horrifying and displays, in my view, a shocking lack of empathy towards other people. Or reading comprehension, for that matter; she is angry at herself for not being able to heal faster. I hate being this person, but: why are you all like this? I am possibly just as horrified by a comment saying that “she acknowledges she wants to lose weight, but also blames society for treating fat people badly!” So maybe this is a shock to a few of you [I’d hope rather few of you??], but people don’t deserve to be treated as less than human because their bodies don’t look how you think they should. Basic empathy is actually a thing you should feel for people whether their bodies - which don’t affect you, by the way - fit your standard :) Genuinely, if you wrote something like that in your review, you should maybe look at yourself. Examine why you felt so offended by Roxane’s criticism of societal systems meant to keep women with unruly bodies in firm self-hatred. I’d wonder why you weren’t horrified by her rape, by her own experiences, and jumped straight into "but why doesn't she just lose weight?" She's dealing with trauma and human empathy is a thing that exists. Jesus. This is a book that deeply affected me and one that I’ll think about for years. Heavy trigger warnings for disordered eating, body issues, and sexual assault, but this one is so worth the read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Adam Dalva

    I'm reviewing this for another venue, and there's a lot to say, but it is a memorable, often harrowing book that is more stylistically weird than I'd expected. It will stick with me. UPDATE: Review posted here! https://www.guernicamag.com/i-wish-i-...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    My full review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, can be found on my blog. In understated but moving prose, Roxane Gay reflects upon her life as a fat woman living in a misogynistic society that seeks to regiment and shame “unruly” bodies. The six-part book consists of eighty-eight short essays that alternate between autobiography, cultural criticism, and social analysis. The start of the memoir centers on Gay’s weight gain following her gang rape at age twelve by her boyfriend and his fri My full review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, can be found on my blog. In understated but moving prose, Roxane Gay reflects upon her life as a fat woman living in a misogynistic society that seeks to regiment and shame “unruly” bodies. The six-part book consists of eighty-eight short essays that alternate between autobiography, cultural criticism, and social analysis. The start of the memoir centers on Gay’s weight gain following her gang rape at age twelve by her boyfriend and his friends. The pain of this section is palpable, and the level of patience and sensitivity with which Gay approaches this period of her life is astounding. In the remainder of the book, Gay considers how her weight, race, and gender have affected the ways in which others have perceived and treated her as an adult, while she critiques American culture for having made “the desire for weight loss” a “default feature of womanhood.” A flawless memoir, full of insight and feeling; highly recommended.

  9. 3 out of 5

    Lola

    I love the 21st century, because books such as this one are being published and their presence in this world make it a better place. The more we read about abuse, fat-shaming, race and womanhood, the more we understand, sympathize, and begin the process of making sure our friends and family members and children feel loved and protected and respected at all times. It takes guts - real guts - to let people not just into your world, but also your mind, with no way to predict how people will respond I love the 21st century, because books such as this one are being published and their presence in this world make it a better place. The more we read about abuse, fat-shaming, race and womanhood, the more we understand, sympathize, and begin the process of making sure our friends and family members and children feel loved and protected and respected at all times. It takes guts - real guts - to let people not just into your world, but also your mind, with no way to predict how people will respond to you, like Roxane Gay did and is doing still. And the truth is, the more honest you are, the more human you seem and the easier it is to connect to you.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    A nuanced cultural understanding of gender did not exist then - girls were pink and boys were blue and that was that. Trigger Warning: The book and this review mention rape and obesity. Hunger by Roxane Gay is powerful and heartbreaking, but it’s also honest but bold. It gives us a raw image of what Roxane went through. From her tomboyish looks growing up to her rape, to her obesity, to her struggles of life as she tried fixing this problem she made herself. Roxane is a literary character tha A nuanced cultural understanding of gender did not exist then - girls were pink and boys were blue and that was that. Trigger Warning: The book and this review mention rape and obesity. Hunger by Roxane Gay is powerful and heartbreaking, but it’s also honest but bold. It gives us a raw image of what Roxane went through. From her tomboyish looks growing up to her rape, to her obesity, to her struggles of life as she tried fixing this problem she made herself. Roxane is a literary character that is real. Hunger is a memoir about her - a strong memoir about her body. Roxanne's life is explained in detail formed that gives shivers to the reader because of how gritty it can get and how graphic one can see it. Roxane was raped at the age of 12 by a boy she thought she loved and some of his gang friends. After that, Roxane felt like she lost everything. She kept everything a secret and didn’t tell anyone about anything, a secret that she thought she should keep invisible and non-existent. She was known as the slut at her school which caused her to move. Because of this trauma, Roxane became obsessed with eating. She thought eating was her comfort and thought eating was the only thing that wouldn’t judge her for becoming different. She then realized food was the reason for her becoming different. After years, Roxane came out of her shell and decided to let the whole world know about this by writing everything down. I am not small. For one, I am tall. That is both a curse and a saving grace. I have presence, I am told. I take up space. I intimidate. I do not want to take up space. I want to go unnoticed. I want to hide. I want to disappear until I gain control of my body. Roxane reflects a lot of women and men in society today by many ways. She didn’t write this to make people feel better about their weight, to make them less self-conscious, to educate them on weight loss and weight gain, to allow people to understand what it feels like to be raped and then become super obese, but she wrote this to let people know all the challenges she faced as she was going through this phase that she thought she could keep silent forever. Women in society are different nowadays compared to Gay herself. When a girl, whether she’s a teenager or a woman, is raped, assaulted, or harassed in any way, she finds ways to let people know and tell them, finds ways to find proof of this to have as evidence. Roxane thought it was best to keep silent for reasons for herself, but nowadays, women would tell the police, their friends, family, and even ask strangers for help. Not only is rape the case in this, but also being severely overweight. Although this is becoming more true, there are still people who decide to stay silvent for reason, whether they're personal or not, because, like Roxane, they think it's best for them as well. And I remembered the result of being weighed and measured and judged, the unfathomable number: 577 pounds. I thought I had known shame in my life, but that night, I truly knew shame. I did not know if I would ever find my way past the shame a toward a place where I could face my body, accept my body, change my body. In society today, we seem to reflect on something similar to Roxane’s words, except today, women are learning to no longer pay much attention to that. It’s become a trend to be thick or to be a little heavy or weight an amount they shouldn’t be, and it seems to me that Roxane was worried about that. There is a small extent where this literary character reflects women and men in society. That small part is how women are still afraid of showing their true colors to the people out in the world so they hide in ways they can think of even when they know it will affect them in the future in large ways. A lot of people can relate to Roxane in all of her cases. When a woman is raped, based on Roxane, it feels as if their body just stop reacting and they couldn’t do anything. Roxane felt like hiding herself by eating would disguise her in a way where men wouldn’t want her because of how fat she is, how overweight she looks, how her feminine looks are gone and how she can’t do anything because of everything she’s carrying in her body. As she interrogated the doctors, her husband sat next to her, smirking. It became clear why she was there. It was all about him and how he saw her body. This is an example that women still face in society today. Women want to look their best in looks and body and weight to impress men, even women who like women want to look their best to impress women or gay men want to look like the fit and attractive man to attract other men. This is something that is still a sensitive and sad topic to many people. People can find this abusive and see it in a way where men and women are harassed mentally because they are being stereotyped and forced to be someone or become something they don’t want to or are uncomfortable with. Roxane ate a lot because she felt like hiding was the best, but as she moves forward, she realized how hard it is to live her life now. We see that she regrets this and how she blames herself for making this choice, for becoming the person she is now, but others wouldn’t blame her if they understand her. Other women, whether they’ve been raped or not or even if they’ve decided to eat so much to get to the point where they don’t look like themselves anymore, don’t seem to care much about that. Women nowadays are changing their own perspective of their bodies. In Roxane’s words, she thought nothing was sadder than seeing this woman and the man sitting at the clinic she was at because the husband saw her as someone he did not like. And still, many people don’t think there is nothing sadder than seeing people trying to convince or forcing their partner, friends, or family members become someone they do not enjoy seeing. In other words, society doesn't think there is nothing sadder than people judging others for their looks. We’ve been taught to not judge people based on looks, but it seems to me that at that time, people would judge people by the way they looked, by how “fit” they were and how big or small their body was. This is still something that happens and is brought up a lot, but there are fewer people forcing others to become someone they’re not. The 1997 film Perfect Body is another example of this. The main character starves herself in order to please her coach and to make the Olympics team. As her coach was taking down her weight, Andie said she is 5 feet tall exactly and her weight is an average and normal weight for a 5 foot tall girl. Her coach was telling her that she needs to lose 8 pounds because average isn't what he needs of her, he needs "perfection." Not only is Andie, the protagonist, hurting herself by starving herself, but is also hurting her team, whether she makes it or not, by becoming weak and fragile, with no strength because she isn't going to have enough strength. The example of that is shown when Andie faints twice after her performance and is taken to a hospital to get checked. They ask her what she's eaten and she says she ate. She ate a banana and drank water. Andie not only fainted and starved herself, but she pretended to eat to try and fool her mother and after "eating" and drinking water, she would start doing sit ups to keep her flat stomach. We see how unhealthy she becomes as her skin is stretching out because of how much fat she is missing, something similar to Ehlers-Danlos syndrome based on the scene where she is looking at herself in the mirror and looking at her arm and stomach. If someone wants to make it to a team specifically and the only way to do that is by starving yourself or eating an amount of food that is not enough for anything, then trying to make the team is not worth it. Women are expected to have the "perfect body" and not be fat or overweight because they are women. Forcing yourself to starve to become skinny is not a diet, it is something unhealthy that is only a glass reflection that does not represent you but is instead killing you. 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. It’s a stereotype. Completely. And it was something Roxane did not agree on. She is a feminist, and Roxane believes that if no one else is going to take the lead of lifting their voice up high to tell people that women aren’t just supposed to be small and slender, then she will do it. She will tell people that women can be aggressive and masculine. She herself says that she considered herself a tomboy when she was young. She’d play with G.I. Joe figures instead of Barbie dolls and now is wearing oversized men’s shirts. Instead of being sensitive, emotional, verbal, a crier, sensitive, gentle, home oriented, and many other expected stereotypes, Roxane can be described as independent, active, worldly, tough but gentle, and not easily hurt with emotions overflowing her. She’s no longer afraid of her secret being told, not to mention that thousands of people know about it, but instead she’s proud of herself for speaking about it and for letting people know why she’s the way she is, what her story is and what happened to her and why she became the way she is. “When you can't find someone to follow, you have to find a way to lead by example.”, and that was exactly what she did. Sexy is not a size, every calorie is not a war, your body is not a battleground. Your value is not measured in pounds. I in no way can say I can relate to Roxane. I am not calling her fat in any way, but I am a very insecure teen who is chubby but calls herself fat and has also looked at food as an answer to hiding herself and her shame, only to regret everything. I can see where Gay is coming from there. In ways, I think food is the answer at times and is all I've looked at as an answer, but then sometimes I force myself to not eat because I tell myself I will lose some weight. I will get skinnier. Boys will like me if I'm skinny. I'll be loved more if I'm skinny. I'll be praised for being underweight instead of overweight. but then I think about it and say It doesn't matter what they think, it should be what I think and what I see and what I see is someone I don't love, but someone I want to love. Instead of becoming obsessed with food, I rejected food. I didn't want to eat. I wanted to eat parts of it only slowly and drink lots of water or some kind of liquid to get full. Like Roxane, I regret it. Roxane to me is beautiful. She's different than many other women in different ways. She considers herself a bad feminist and is a woman who is not the typical weight a woman normally is. But even with that, I find Roxane Gay to be inspiring and uplifting. The way she's talked about herself and her story is uplifting and even though she doesn't mean this memoir to be inspiring or have people think differently about her or other "fat women", it does inspire me, it does make me look at it differently, and it makes me think differently about myself. Roxane is strong. She's decided to use her female voice to bring women together to allow them to know that not only are stereotypes wrong, abusive, and rude in harmful ways but also to express herself to let other women know they are free to please themselves in ways they want to; to be who they want to be and not someone others want to me, and that is something I learned from this memoir; I should look at myself as someone I want to be, not someone others want me to be, or to look at myself as someone who needs to please someone because the only person I should be pleasing is myself, and that's what Roxane has learned to do. She's beautiful. She's strong. She's taken the lead as a female. And now it's up to other females to take more leads and follow.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sh3lly (grumpybookgrrrl)

    People don’t expect the writer who will be speaking at their event to look like me. They don’t know how to hide their shock when they realize that a reasonably successful writer is this overweight. These reactions hurt, for so many reasons. They illustrate how little people think of fat people, how they assume we are neither smart nor capable if we have such unruly bodies. I am what Roxane Gay would call “Lane Bryant” overweight. My body is still scrutinized and judged, and I still face many of t People don’t expect the writer who will be speaking at their event to look like me. They don’t know how to hide their shock when they realize that a reasonably successful writer is this overweight. These reactions hurt, for so many reasons. They illustrate how little people think of fat people, how they assume we are neither smart nor capable if we have such unruly bodies. I am what Roxane Gay would call “Lane Bryant” overweight. My body is still scrutinized and judged, and I still face many of the same worries about what will happen when I walk on to an airplane or how I can make my body small enough to not offend people publicly. But, this book focuses on what doctors would call a “super morbidly obese” person (a hundred-plus pounds overweight). Also, Roxane experienced gang rape as a twelve year old (this section is beyond my ability to put in words). So, her experience is very different from mine, but I still resonated with so much of what she wrote. This book is melancholy, yet full of anger and frustration. She lays herself bare and discusses toxic relationships, her years at boarding school and at college. She has become extremely successful in spite of her depthless hunger. If you have never been fat or suffered from anxiety or depression, you might not realize how the condition(s) can make you selfish, self-absorbed, and/or judgy. While you feel empathy and compassion for others, you also constantly view yourself in comparison to others. “She is fatter than me,” or “I am irritated at or envious of him/her for being so fitness and health conscious (thin).” Ridiculous judgments or unrealistic values placed, wars going on in your mind. Obesity is an “epidemic,” yet we live in a world where obese people are expected to be invisible or small. We are obligated to give others more space than we take up. We are judged by how “f***able” we are (or aren’t). We are forced into humiliation because accommodations are not made for fat people. Roxane talks about how she has been afraid to sit on toilet seats or certain chairs and that chairs with arm rests can give you bruises and be painful. She talks about the careful deliberate preparations that go into social events, like going to the theater or eating at restaurants. She brings her own seat belt adjustor when flying, so she doesn’t have to ask for one. People think nothing of embarrassing obese people, and it’s almost like our society expects fat people to pay for their obesity by being obligated to endure insults, discrimination, and open disgust. This is the price of having an unruly body. All of these ideas and more are covered in this book. Here are some quotes I found to be stand-out and poignant: It is startling to realize that even Oprah, a woman in her early sixties, a billionaire and one of the most famous women in the world, isn’t happy with herself, her body. That is how pervasive damaging cultural messages about unruly bodies are – that even as we age, no matter what material successes we achieve, we cannot be satisfied or happy unless we are also thin. My body is wildly undisciplined, and yet I deny myself nearly everything I desire. I deny myself the right to space when I am in public, trying to fold in on myself, to make my body invisible even though it is, in fact, grandly visible. I deny myself the right to a shared armrest because how dare I impose? Roxane Gay speaks of how she denies herself “girly” things like manicures and certain clothes styles, and never expresses her attractions. She declined a bag of chips from a friend to eat on a plane because “people like me don’t get to eat food like that in public.” I can relate to some much of what she says in this book. While I may be a more “acceptable” version of fat, I still never wear a bathing suit (it’s been over 20 years), I wear basically baggy t-shirts and jeans when going out in public), I don’t want to go to a gym because I don’t want to be the fatty surrounded by gorgeous people. I don’t want to do anything more strenuous outdoors besides light hiking because I feel like I will sweat too much, breathe too hard, not be able to keep up, look clumsy, ungraceful, gross. I rarely bother with wearing makeup. No one will be interested in me, so why bother? They are doing things I hope, so very much want, to someday be able to do in theory, even if I won’t actually do them given that I am not at all interested in sports or the outdoors. I am jealous. I am seething with jealousy. I want to be part of the active world. I want it so very badly. There are so many things I hunger for. I am self-conscious beyond measure. I am intensely and constantly preoccupied with my body in the world because I know what people think and what they see when they look at me. I know that I am breaking the unspoken rules of what a woman should look like. About men shouting insults and vulgar comments at her: I try not to take these men seriously because what they are really saying is, “I am not attracted to you. I do not want to f*** you, and this confuses my understanding of my masculinity, entitlement, and place in this world.” It is not my job to please them with my body. This book moved me and inspired me. It is not for the faint of heart and may be triggering. It’s a book I checked out from the library, but will be purchasing my own physical copy to add to my library because I liked it that much. It’s a keeper and one I will re-read in the future.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Langford

    5***** I know that hunger is in the mind and the body and the heart and the soul. Extremely powerful, raw and honest. Roxane Gay presents herself fully to the reader, she lets us inside her life, in an unapologetic and truthful way. This is an intimate account of Roxane Gay's experience with her body, something which she describes as 'wildly undisciplined'. She is insightful and critical of the events that had taken place over her childhood, teenage years and twenties. Roxane Gay presents her vuln 5***** I know that hunger is in the mind and the body and the heart and the soul. Extremely powerful, raw and honest. Roxane Gay presents herself fully to the reader, she lets us inside her life, in an unapologetic and truthful way. This is an intimate account of Roxane Gay's experience with her body, something which she describes as 'wildly undisciplined'. She is insightful and critical of the events that had taken place over her childhood, teenage years and twenties. Roxane Gay presents her vulnerability and is brave at her admission of sexual assault which occurred at such a young age. There is the before and the after. Before I gained weight. After I gained weight. Before I was raped. After I was raped. She delves into how this trauma influenced her to hunger for foods My body is a cage. My body is a cage of my own making. I am still trying to make my way out of it., she is critical of why she gained weight, how the trauma and weight effected her relationships with both sexes, how her weight influences the making of friendships. She describes the searing loneliness she faces during those years, the pain and brokenness, the numb feeling and finding comfort in food. Roxane Gay also highlights the way society treats fat people in such unfair ways. People are quick to judge and not to understand. The media and shops project that being fat cannot be synonymous with being happy. People project assumed narratives onto your body and are not at all interested in the truth of your body, whatever that truth might be. And sadly she states the hurtful truth that some people still see No matter what I accomplish, I will be fat, first and foremost. This book puts you into the mind and body of someone who has to move in a different way, who has to question and plan out where they are going, someone who doesn't want to gain attention to the public eye but gains it anyway, someone who has faced and lived through sexual assault and the consequences of this. Roxane Gay makes you question how fatness is judged, and the larger question of whether others should be judged at all. What I liked about Roxane Gay is that she didn't just describe her hunger for food, she describes her hunger for loving relationships, a world of understanding and most inspiring, her hunger and ambition to become a writer. Overall, this memoir is probably one of my favourites and any memoirs I read after will be compared to this. I know, from interviews, that weight is something that Roxane Gay did not want to initially write about, however, the realisation of the avoidance of this topic influenced her to write it. This memoir was completely beautiful and emotive, and has much to teach us about bravery, kindness and compassion to others.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Book Riot Community

    Written in six parts and 88 chapters that read like vignettes, Hunger is not a conventional memoir. The book’s subtitle, “A Memoir of (My) Body,” conveys the real subject. After being gang-raped in a cabin in the woods when she was only twelve, Gay turned to food because her body “Needed to be a safe harbor rather than a small, weak vessel that betrayed me.” Gay shares her observations about being a woman of a size in a world that is not built for, or has any tolerance of, large bodies. Hunger g Written in six parts and 88 chapters that read like vignettes, Hunger is not a conventional memoir. The book’s subtitle, “A Memoir of (My) Body,” conveys the real subject. After being gang-raped in a cabin in the woods when she was only twelve, Gay turned to food because her body “Needed to be a safe harbor rather than a small, weak vessel that betrayed me.” Gay shares her observations about being a woman of a size in a world that is not built for, or has any tolerance of, large bodies. Hunger gave me not only empathy, but the courage to interrogate my own prejudices and the ways I have been conditioned by society to view weight loss and body types. It’s the best kind of memoir, and will surely linger for a long time after. — Matt Grant from The Best Books We Read In June 2017: https://bookriot.com/2017/07/03/riot-... ____________________ I was drawn in by Bad Feminist, an essay collection that validated so much of what I was feeling about myself. I read and loved An Untamed State next, and it was beautiful and brutal. When I read that Gay was writing something about her difficult relationship with her body, my immediate reaction was I AM SO THERE FOR THAT, because my relationship with my body is also difficult. When the pub date was pushed back, I felt as if the anticipation was unbearable. The wait was worth it. Within the first page of this egalley, I knew this was a book I would have to own when it officially pubbed. Almost like prose poetry, Gay opens herself up in a way she never has before, splaying herself open on the page as she tackles issues of the body and sexual violence and self-worth. This is a book I know I will return to again and again, like self-affirmation. Like prayer. — Steph Auteri from The Best Books We Read In April 2017: http://bookriot.com/2017/05/01/riot-r...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    “This is a memoir of (my) body because, more often than not, stories of bodies like mine are ignored or dismissed or derided. People see bodies like mine and make their assumptions. They think they know the why of my body. They do not.” Damn this is some raw stuff here. Roxane Gay's honesty about very real issues - both internal and external - will surely open up validation, empathy, perspective, and a line of communication for others. The human condition is complex enough but it can turn in “This is a memoir of (my) body because, more often than not, stories of bodies like mine are ignored or dismissed or derided. People see bodies like mine and make their assumptions. They think they know the why of my body. They do not.” Damn this is some raw stuff here. Roxane Gay's honesty about very real issues - both internal and external - will surely open up validation, empathy, perspective, and a line of communication for others. The human condition is complex enough but it can turn into quite the web when the stress of everything (and everyone) in your past and present makes you want to fetal position in a corner and turn invisible. She's lived it, felt it, and is still going through it...and now she's sharing it with the world. Read it. My favorite quote: “He said/she said is why so many victims (or survivors if you prefer that terminology) don’t come forward. All too often, what “he said” matters more, so we just swallow the truth. We swallow it and more often than not, it turns rancid. It spreads through the body like an infection. It becomes depression or addiction or obsession or some other physical manifestation of the silence of what she would have said, needed to say, couldn’t say.”

  15. 3 out of 5

    Didi

    According to my electronic dictionary, hunger means a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat or a strong desire or craving. I must say that Roxane Gay’s memoir Hunger A Memoir of (My) Body was named appropriately. https://browngirlreading.com/2017/08/...

  16. 3 out of 5

    Ammar

    raw to the bone sincere frustrating shocking and full of pain

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bam

    * 3.5 stars rounded up. "Something terrible happened." Roxane Gay is a very fine writer and this memoir about living in her extremely overweight body is exceedingly honest...and oh so depressing. Roxane was gang raped by her young boyfriend and his buddies when she was twelve and she never told anyone, not even her very loving and supportive family. After that, she started down a path of self-destruction, gaining incredible amounts of weight, and believing she wasn't worthy of being treated well o * 3.5 stars rounded up. "Something terrible happened." Roxane Gay is a very fine writer and this memoir about living in her extremely overweight body is exceedingly honest...and oh so depressing. Roxane was gang raped by her young boyfriend and his buddies when she was twelve and she never told anyone, not even her very loving and supportive family. After that, she started down a path of self-destruction, gaining incredible amounts of weight, and believing she wasn't worthy of being treated well or being loved. Being a 'super morbidly obese' woman in our body conscious/shaming society gave her many excruciating opportunities to prove herself right, at least in what she saw reflected in the eyes of others. Oh, how I wish she had gotten psychological help or had taken self-defense classes or something pro-active instead of trying to hide away in an increasingly heavy body. As it was, she let those boys rob her of her daily happiness. They stole her innocence and a huge chunk of her life and spirit. Now in her forties, she has been successful in her life and her memoir ends on a hopeful note--but don't expect to be uplifted. Maybe the best thing about her life story is the reminder not to judge people by their outward appearance but by who they are inside.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Wendi Lee

    I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I was thankful for receiving it, having wanted to read this book for months, and am even more thankful now that I've read it. This is an important book, a memoir about one woman's struggle with her weight and beyond that, her place in the world. So many passages resonated with me that I highlighted at least a fourth of the book. When Roxane Gay was 12 years old, she was brutally gang raped. To cope with the trauma, and to protect herself from fu I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I was thankful for receiving it, having wanted to read this book for months, and am even more thankful now that I've read it. This is an important book, a memoir about one woman's struggle with her weight and beyond that, her place in the world. So many passages resonated with me that I highlighted at least a fourth of the book. When Roxane Gay was 12 years old, she was brutally gang raped. To cope with the trauma, and to protect herself from future attacks, she ate. Food became both a comfort and a weapon. This book is more than about food and weight though; it's about the experience of one woman living in and navigating her body through current America. Gay is very careful to point out that this is her experience alone, but I could relate to a lot of what happened to her, could say, this has happened to me, too. I can't think of a single woman in my life who couldn't also say, in one context or another, this has happened to me, too. Gay's memoir takes us through childhood to academia, to familial relationships and romantic ones, to her experiences with obesity in a country where obesity is scorned and ridiculed. I think that this memoir is incredibly brave because women have historically been shamed for their sexuality and their bodies, for crimes committed against them, despite the choices they make, despite the attempts they make to keep themselves safe. We are supposed to keep silent about these things, because otherwise we are unruly and troublemakers. We are supposed to keep silent, because these things are supposed to be inconsequential, not that bad, and because popular sentiment leads us to believe that we brought these things unto ourselves. Thank you, Roxane Gay, for writing this book. For being so brave, and putting your trauma, scars, fear, and cautious hope on the page.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    Hunger: A Memoir Of (My) Body is Roxane Gay's brutally honest, soul bearing account of food, weight, self-image and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself. Twelve year old Roxane was gang raped by a group of boys and never told anyone. Her bewildered parents couldn't then understand her sudden path of self-destruction, gaining incredible amounts of weight, and believing she wasn't worthy of being loved. She chose to hide away in an increasingly heavy body. Those boys robbe Hunger: A Memoir Of (My) Body is Roxane Gay's brutally honest, soul bearing account of food, weight, self-image and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself. Twelve year old Roxane was gang raped by a group of boys and never told anyone. Her bewildered parents couldn't then understand her sudden path of self-destruction, gaining incredible amounts of weight, and believing she wasn't worthy of being loved. She chose to hide away in an increasingly heavy body. Those boys robbed her of her daily happiness, her innocence and her spirit. In an unapologetic way she describes her very sad teenage years and then her horrific 20's. Now in her 40's she is still trying to make peace with the unfathomable loss of her childhood, and her choices along the way have mostly made things worse, not better. She doesn't reveal all of this pain in a "poor me" fashion, instead she simply explains how she got to be extremely obese and why she continues to be that way. A courageous story that both teaches and resonates. This needs to be read! I highly recommend this audiobook narrated by the author Roxane Gay.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Hank Stuever

    This book is inoculated from too much criticism, because it is indeed an act of courage to write a memoir about having been gang-raped at 12 and draw a direct line from that hideous crime, in no way her fault, to her life of shame-eating her way to extreme obesity, which is, we are to understand, also in no way her fault, a point of view that I suspect will still be difficult for many readers to swallow. (I say that as someone who currently weighs far more than I reasonably should, and totally g This book is inoculated from too much criticism, because it is indeed an act of courage to write a memoir about having been gang-raped at 12 and draw a direct line from that hideous crime, in no way her fault, to her life of shame-eating her way to extreme obesity, which is, we are to understand, also in no way her fault, a point of view that I suspect will still be difficult for many readers to swallow. (I say that as someone who currently weighs far more than I reasonably should, and totally gets how outside factors like stress and emotional state get us there.) I wonder if Roxane Gay was indeed ready to write this book -- she frames it as a difficult experience to write and finish and publish it and there is equivocation on every page, sometimes every sentence, and nothing like the stronger, more direct prose and voice of her essays/op-eds on feminism and society. She picked the hardest thing in her life to write about, but then makes a lot of loops around it, in writing that is often loopy and unsure and technically prettified/poeticized but doesn't really say what she's trying to say. That would be my response if I was editing the manuscript; it is in no way a response to her pain and suffering. My criticism of the writing may also have something to do with the times. Roxane Gay's voice was born and championed via the Internet, which means that a lot of "Hunger" bears the stream-of-consciousness informality of blog entries. It's a highly personal form of writing, like journaling, that, in its rawness and simplicity, lacks a universal oomph that would lift this memoir up to the level of the great memoirs. "Hunger" is very, very inward-directed; only near the end does she try to lift her story up and out to the world and the reader. There's also a lot of lazy language and redundancy; many occasions where she could be more descriptive instead of just leaning on crutch phrases and forging ahead. I say that knowing that other readers will find the style suits them just fine -- in fact, they relate to it better _because_ it's such a casual, conversational non-style of writing. But I'm picky that way. For example, I wish writers like Gay, who surely knows what real hate is, wouldn't use the word "hate" so much for banal occurrences in everyday life that we simply don't like or don't prefer: food, habits, celebrities, minor inconveniences, awkward moments. I found Gay using the word "hate" in this way more than a dozen times in "Hunger," and maybe many more (I should have counted them). What she's describing is not hatred, it's just loathing or disliking or some other, better word for a reaction. In the arts/culture section of the newspaper where I work, I find that we throw the word "hate" around, in headlines and blog items especially, when what we really mean is dislike or thumbs-down or no-thank-you. But I get it -- the hate horse left the barn some time ago, so I should probably find a way to get past it, because it seems to be the Internet's favorite word.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Adira

    Roxane Gay poured her heart onto the page with this one and basically dares readers to look away from her pain. (view spoiler)[This book isn't for the faint of heart since Gay basically is outling her tumultuous history of being gang raped at twelve, the subsequent cycle of violence done to her by others and herself, and having in depth conversations about her sex life and eating habits. (hide spoiler)] In short, if you're easily made squeamish and/or not one for dealing with messy real life even Roxane Gay poured her heart onto the page with this one and basically dares readers to look away from her pain. (view spoiler)[This book isn't for the faint of heart since Gay basically is outling her tumultuous history of being gang raped at twelve, the subsequent cycle of violence done to her by others and herself, and having in depth conversations about her sex life and eating habits. (hide spoiler)] In short, if you're easily made squeamish and/or not one for dealing with messy real life events that come about when one takes the time to live and go "through" things and/or if you are triggered easily by sexual violence, violence in general, food disorders...cough cough...life in general Stay. Away. From. This. Book! No seriously! Stay as far as you can get from any discussion of this book because things get real, real quick. #IWasNotReady

  22. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I want to give this book so many more than 5 stars. It resonates with me on SO many levels. And all I can think of to say right now is read it. Immediately, if not sooner.

  23. 3 out of 5

    Ellie

    To start with, I've loved all of Roxane Gay's work that I have read so far. I read Bad Feminist twice and loved how it was witty and funny and serious simultaneously. I was moved by the stories in Difficult Women. So I was eager to read her new work. As with all of Gay's work, it is beautifully written. It is the story of her body and her relationship to it. It is also the story of her terrible trauma and its lasting effects, how it changed and recreated her, almost, in fact, destroyed her. She s To start with, I've loved all of Roxane Gay's work that I have read so far. I read Bad Feminist twice and loved how it was witty and funny and serious simultaneously. I was moved by the stories in Difficult Women. So I was eager to read her new work. As with all of Gay's work, it is beautifully written. It is the story of her body and her relationship to it. It is also the story of her terrible trauma and its lasting effects, how it changed and recreated her, almost, in fact, destroyed her. She says her story is not an inspirational one and, truthfully, inspirational is not a word I especially like but I was moved by the mere fact that she survived this event and, eventually, found solace and success in her writing. And although my struggle with weight is different than Gay's, I deeply identified with the rejection of my body, my loss of faith in myself as I gained weight (after having spent most of my life as a thin woman). I continue to believe that if only I got back to a certain weight, I would be happier, despite knowing the lie that this is. Gay's relationship to her body reflects the difficulty many American women face accepting their bodies. It exposes how the world around judges us for our appearance and how limited-and limiting-that judgement is. Gay's book is sad and beautiful. There is great tragedy in it but there is also triumph. Gay has not been destroyed by what was done to her, although she has been scarred and has suffered greatly because of it. As she says, she is tired of the fact that so many women have these sad stories to tell but she is determined not to carry this story as a secret any more. Gay is brave and smart and, yes, an inspiration. It is a challenge to many of us women to accept our bodies as they are, especially if they don't fit society's view of what an "acceptable" body is. And she has survived terrible trauma: it reminds me of how easy it is to judge others without recognizing that we don't know their stories and who are we to judge anyway? Especially when we're judging not character but appearance. I felt challenged about my own prejudices by this book. It was not, as she writes in her closing, a comfortable experience but it was one that leads to growth. It's worth being uncomfortable to become more human and humane. I strongly recommend this book to everyone, men and women alike. We all live in a society that judges by a very narrow definition of acceptable. This is a book worth reading.

  24. 3 out of 5

    Emily

    This is an absolutely phenomenal book, and the best memoir I have ever read. As always, Gay's writing is gorgeous. The chapters are very short, which gave the book a stream of consciousness feel that I really enjoyed. As for content, in this book Gay examines how she used food and eating to deal with trauma, and her experiences as a fat woman living in and navigating today's society. It's an incredibly vulnerable story. Gay discusses sexual assault, depression, fat shaming, among other issues. I'm This is an absolutely phenomenal book, and the best memoir I have ever read. As always, Gay's writing is gorgeous. The chapters are very short, which gave the book a stream of consciousness feel that I really enjoyed. As for content, in this book Gay examines how she used food and eating to deal with trauma, and her experiences as a fat woman living in and navigating today's society. It's an incredibly vulnerable story. Gay discusses sexual assault, depression, fat shaming, among other issues. I'm floored by just how honest she is over the course of this book. I can only imagine how emotionally exhausting (and hopefully, freeing) it was to write. As a reading, you can sense this. You can sense that this is truth. Her truth, and truths about our world. This is an important, impactful read. It's essential reading.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Heather K (dentist in my spare time)

    *3.5 stars* Impactful. I can understand all of the 5-star reviews for this poetically written memoir by influential author, Roxane Gay. She truly is a lovely writer, and the subject matter is, obviously, very difficult to articulate and something that she has been dealing with her whole life. I was also really moved by some of her descriptors, like calling her body "unruly," which is a surprisingly powerful word to describe bodies that we can't get to conform to others' standards. There are many i *3.5 stars* Impactful. I can understand all of the 5-star reviews for this poetically written memoir by influential author, Roxane Gay. She truly is a lovely writer, and the subject matter is, obviously, very difficult to articulate and something that she has been dealing with her whole life. I was also really moved by some of her descriptors, like calling her body "unruly," which is a surprisingly powerful word to describe bodies that we can't get to conform to others' standards. There are many instances of phrasing so beautiful and poignant that they will stick with me for some time. However, as an audiobook, I have mixed feelings. The author's voice is very pleasant to listen to, but the book seemed extremely repetitive, especially in audio format. The story seemed like it could have been shortened or edited down as parts were redundant to the point of boring. I think if I had read the story in ebook format, it would have been more like reading a book of poetry/memoir fusion, but the listening experience is just a very different animal. Recommended for fans of Roxane Gay.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    For my nonfiction writing seminar, senior year of university, we were asked to write memoir. I wrote about what had at that point been a defining moment in my life: in high school, a boy I was good friends with threatened to rape and kill me on numerous occasions (and in graphic detail) because I wouldn't date him. There was never any violence committed against me, just the threat, and once he pressed his hand hard against my throat mimicking a knife. But I told my sister, who told our parents, For my nonfiction writing seminar, senior year of university, we were asked to write memoir. I wrote about what had at that point been a defining moment in my life: in high school, a boy I was good friends with threatened to rape and kill me on numerous occasions (and in graphic detail) because I wouldn't date him. There was never any violence committed against me, just the threat, and once he pressed his hand hard against my throat mimicking a knife. But I told my sister, who told our parents, who called the police. The boy was not charged with anything but was told that if he ever contacted me again or approached me at school, he would be charged. It being high school, horrible things were said about me for reporting him. Somehow I became the villain for "taking it seriously," for thinking someone might actually want to rape me. I unconsciously stopped wearing makeup as a result and began the long path of weight gain that, in its ebbs and flows, now has me hovering at the mid point of what Roxane Gay calls "Lane Bryant fat." (In the spirit of Roxane's full disclosure, I am a size 18/20, though I've been as high as a 26/28.) This is essentially the only thing I said in my memoir after talking about the incident: that "I stopped wearing makeup. I gained weight." I put no value judgments on myself. As anyone would be from being threatened and hearing horrible things said about yourself, I was depressed and simply stopped caring. Yet my male professor at the time, an older gentleman about to retire who prided himself on being liberal for his age, kept me after class to talk about my story. He told me that he thinks a lot of women confronted with that kind of sexualized pain "try to make themselves ugly." He assured me that despite my size and lack of care for my appearance, I'd meet a man who would love me one day. I walked out of that meeting even more upset than I had been at rehashing the memories writing the memoir. I teared the whole walk back to my apartment. *** The point of telling you all of that is that when I think of the shock of pain, and sadness, and disgusting vulnerability I felt at that moment of a man condescending to tell me that one day I would be loved in spite of my objective physical hideousness (also grown from pain), I just marvel at the bravery of Roxane Gay in writing this book. She is putting herself out there to experience the well intended misunderstanding that somehow hurts worse that the original pain. It's no small sacrifice. Reading this book was an incredibly intimate experience. Roxane has suffered a great deal in her life, having been gang raped at the age of 12, eating to make herself stronger and larger so she will be left alone, never victimized in the same way again, and then dealing with the attendant physical struggles of being large in a world that is not made for large people. When she writes about the molded armrests of theater seats digging into her hips and thighs, or the self-consciousness of trying to keep walking pace with thin friends, or the embarrassment of asking for a seatbelt extender in impossibly small airplane seats, I recognized moments from my own life. When she writes about people actually removing food from her cart at the grocery store "for her own good," or being afraid to stand in front of a classroom of teenagers as a teacher or having insults yelled at her simply walking down the street, I recognized that there is a level of experience that I have never known, and became angry at the injustice of it, for her. I also know, uncomfortably deeply, what it is to be an active participant in your own debasement because you think it is what you deserve. I wanted to take everything Roxane wrote about losing her 20s to her own self loathing and being used by romantic partners and plaster it to my heart, because it was so cathartic to read about someone who has also lived that and come out on the other side. What Gay is doing with Hunger is laying herself completely bare as a call for radical compassion. It feels as though she is sacrificing herself to the scrutiny of ones who don't and will never understand, to widen the empathy of understanding of the many readers who are open to it and just don't know what it is to be a fat person, or have never questioned why fatness is still acceptable as the butt of jokes. This is so necessary. I'm so grateful to her for telling her story. I gave it four stars rather than five as a matter of extremely personal opinion. But I don't really want to discuss light criticisms here because I don't want to degrade this book in any way. It should be required reading. Edited for clarity and better readability. This all kind of spewed out of me in an emotional frenzy on my phone, no less.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    Roxane Gay, thank you. Unflinching honesty, ugly and beautiful truth. Reading Roxane Gay's memoir Hunger is at once a difficult, intimate endeavor, but the sheer power of Gay's blunt, unsparingly honest prose made this a single sitting read for me, gobsmacked by her willingness to reveal the depths of her pain, her rage, her hope, her insecurities, her jealousy, and her hunger for so many things in this world, some attainable and some tantalizingly out of reach due to physical, cultural, societal Roxane Gay, thank you. Unflinching honesty, ugly and beautiful truth. Reading Roxane Gay's memoir Hunger is at once a difficult, intimate endeavor, but the sheer power of Gay's blunt, unsparingly honest prose made this a single sitting read for me, gobsmacked by her willingness to reveal the depths of her pain, her rage, her hope, her insecurities, her jealousy, and her hunger for so many things in this world, some attainable and some tantalizingly out of reach due to physical, cultural, societal, or self imposed limitations. This is a memoir of Gay's body, but she does in his memoir what she asks, begs, demands, fears, hungers for: the reader must see her body, indeed through her eyes we for a moment can feel what it is to inhabit her body, but the reader is also confronted with the nuance and complexity and intelligence and whirlwind of thoughts and desires and emotions that Gay is just as much as her body, and that too often has been stripped away from her in terms of how modern American culture views a woman of size. And as specific as it is, this immersal into the mind and heart and body of Gay, there is so much here that resonates and reverberates loudly, into the collective experience, the female experience, the black experience. There is so much at work here: rape, trauma, alienation, sexuality, familial relationships, the myriad sides and natures of America and how its people deny and demean (but also embrace and love). And perhaps I may have more in common with Gay than the average reader or even if I don't, perceive a closer kinship - biracial, 5' 10", boarding school kid, in my adult years always tending heavier than I'd (and my family) would like me to be and the requisite concern and veneration of thinness=happiness that comes with that. Gay's ability to probe into the parts of herself she keeps hidden or submerged and bring that multitude of passion and feeling to the surface is incredibly moving, and at least for me, I was able to revel in and admire her honesty while also being forced to consider my own (or lack of it), truths about my complicity in terms of being part of a culture that simultaneously erases fat people but also can't help but accost them and reduce them to sheer mass and BMI and numbers on a scale, truths about how I often elevate the needs and desires of others far above those of my own and deny myself the power and importance of my hunger. I'm not a usually a memoir reader, but the ones I love best achieve this fantastic union of individual and universal. On the side of the individual story, there is specificity and intimacy and honesty; on he side of the universal, there is application for a new way of evaluating the world around you, a new way of understanding, a new perspective to consider. Gay's Hunger did all of those things, but for me struck personally, I felt how she felt and also felt my own feelings, I watched her rage and grieve and fear and felt my own rage and grief and fear. And the power of her honesty in writing this book has at least given me some courage or strength to be honest in my review of her work, even if I cannot yet be as honest about myself. I'm just a girl on Goodreads, and I'm nowhere near as willing to be publicly honest as Gay, but in reading Hunger I couldn't help but be bowled over, experiencing her story and her life, watching her contextualize her experience and evaluate where all of us stand in being complicit with the inequities and indignities of the society we're all part of, letting Gay's sharp, blunt truth penetrate parts of myself I don't surface and force or prompt self-examination. I think Hunger will appeal widely, hitting for fans of Gay's previous work and for those memoir type readers who are ok with an uncomfortable, challenging, honest experience getting into the skin and mind and heart of someone else. For me, this will be one of the most powerful and transformative and necessary reads of 2017. 5 stars, given with a lump in the throat and watery eyes and feeling both full and drained after reading and processing and reviewing. -received an ARC on edelweiss thanks to Harper Collins

  28. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    This book was fine. Interesting. Readable. At times poignant. But I am disappointed because I thought I was going to read something spectacular and brilliant - something that would make me look at the world and the people around me differently. I think I got this idea from the episode of This American Life that featured some of the material that later went into this book. I found that episode fascinating, but unfortunately, I didn't find that this book went much deeper than the radio show did. A This book was fine. Interesting. Readable. At times poignant. But I am disappointed because I thought I was going to read something spectacular and brilliant - something that would make me look at the world and the people around me differently. I think I got this idea from the episode of This American Life that featured some of the material that later went into this book. I found that episode fascinating, but unfortunately, I didn't find that this book went much deeper than the radio show did. Also, and I feel like the worst person in the world for thinking this, I felt like Roxane Gay wasn't quite ready to write this book, like she is not done maturing. I say this because I kept feeling like I was reading the thoughts of a 25-year-old, but then remembering that the author was much older. Then again, maybe that is part of the message of the book - that her body has stunted her adulthood in myriad ways. I also went through a period in my early 20s when I read a TON of fat person and formerly fat-person memoirs, and I don't feel like this book has many new things to add to the genre (besides having been written by a respected literary author).

  29. 3 out of 5

    Raymond

    Roxane Gay’s memoir Hunger is about her life as a “woman of size”. I agree with many people who have described this book as emotionally raw. She describes a tragic event that happened to her in her youth and the weight gain that resulted from it. She centers most of her memoir on what her life is like having an “unruly body”, the daily interactions with people who instantly judge her because of her size, the things that most people take for granted like sitting in one seat in a movie theater or Roxane Gay’s memoir Hunger is about her life as a “woman of size”. I agree with many people who have described this book as emotionally raw. She describes a tragic event that happened to her in her youth and the weight gain that resulted from it. She centers most of her memoir on what her life is like having an “unruly body”, the daily interactions with people who instantly judge her because of her size, the things that most people take for granted like sitting in one seat in a movie theater or airplane as opposed to two, her relationship with food, and so much more. Gay’s book is very powerful and I believe that it will give voice to women, people of size, and others who may have suffered similar episodes like she did and who continue to live with the memories of what happened to them. I hope this book opens the eyes of people who have not lived Gay’s life or something similar to it. I hope it makes people more empathetic towards people with different bodies. If you haven’t read this book, please do yourself a favor and read it.

  30. 3 out of 5

    Wendy

    I am of two minds about this book. Firstly, Roxanne Gay's suffering is unimaginable. Reading this was hard, hard to read someone's account of their living hell and building a body as a cage because life is so dangerous and cruel. And it is. She's right about that. What Roxanne experienced, her brutal gang rape, traumatised her, brutalised her, and got her fixated on her BODY. I have deep compassion for her. The book was also illuminating in its exploration of culture's cruelty, prejudice, and rhet I am of two minds about this book. Firstly, Roxanne Gay's suffering is unimaginable. Reading this was hard, hard to read someone's account of their living hell and building a body as a cage because life is so dangerous and cruel. And it is. She's right about that. What Roxanne experienced, her brutal gang rape, traumatised her, brutalised her, and got her fixated on her BODY. I have deep compassion for her. The book was also illuminating in its exploration of culture's cruelty, prejudice, and rhetoric about weight. Eye opening. But... This book needed good editing. Too long, TMI, Roxanne exposes EVERYTHING and too much transparency soon begins to overwhelm and numb the reader, and to what purpose? Structure of book was chaotic and repetitive. Occurred like the binge eating and vomiting that Gay describes so well. Occurred, to me, as self indulgent and after awhile I just felt, enough already. If I read about how much she hates herself again, i am going to scream. Her suffering lost poignancy as she wallowed around in it over and over and over. After years of denial and secrecy, feels like she used the book to purge. Not for me.

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