Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

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...

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Title:Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body
Author:Roxane Gay
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body Reviews

  • 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.

  • Thomas

    I finished

    five hours ago and still feel such overwhelming gratitude for Roxane Gay's writing; this memoir is my favorite 2017 read by far and one of those rare works that makes me so thankful for my ability to read at all.

    focuses on Gay's fatness, how being fat has affected her life in so many negative and unfair ways, and the rape she experienced as a twelve-year-old that precipitated her weight gain. She has an enormous talent for confronting complex, ugly truths in her writing

    I finished

    five hours ago and still feel such overwhelming gratitude for Roxane Gay's writing; this memoir is my favorite 2017 read by far and one of those rare works that makes me so thankful for my ability to read at all.

    focuses on Gay's fatness, how being fat has affected her life in so many negative and unfair ways, and the rape she experienced as a twelve-year-old that precipitated her weight gain. She has an enormous talent for confronting complex, ugly truths in her writing and for injecting nuance into difficult subjects that we would rather see as simple. There are no clear victories or easy solutions in

    . Instead of cookie-cutter niceties, Gay offers a harrowing and honest account of her suffering, as well as the painful, slow, and necessary steps she has taken to heal. As writer Caroline Knapp does in her splendid memoir

    , Gay blends the personal and the political with great skill, showing how food intersects with feminism which intersects with sexism which intersects with trauma and so much more. A passage that exemplifies what I mean:

    As with all great memoirs, Gay's vulnerability in

    makes it a phenomenal, empathy-inspiring read. She shares some of the most embarrassing, disturbing instances of discrimination she has faced as a fat person, ranging from both internet trolls and medical professionals berating her because of her weight, to how she could not find seating that would fit her in airplanes, movie theaters, etc. She elevates the intensity and quality of these disclosures by admitting the painful emotions that accompanied them: her sheer hunger for both the safety of invisibility and her right to visibility, the self-loathing society instilled within her because of her weight, and her desperate and sometimes self-destructive pleas for love. In large part because of her distinct voice, Gay somehow manages to make this memoir insightful, heartbreaking, uncomfortable, authentic, and sometimes even humorous all at once.

    Overall, a difficult and worthwhile book I would recommend to everyone. I had the pleasure of getting dinner with Ms. Gay when she visited my college's campus in 2015, where she mentioned to me that she was working on this book. As a nineteen-year-old, I was intimidated and starstruck by her intelligence and wit. But ultimately, I was won over by how

    she was: she was tired that day from an exhausting flight and it showed, and she still exuded kindness and good humor. I could hear her incisive and self-aware and oh so human voice in every single page of

    . I want to share one last quote from the book to close this review:

    Thank you, Roxane Gay, for empowering victims and survivors of eating disorders and various forms of assault - myself included - to honor our hunger and to use our stories to create. Thank you for showing, once again, how writing can unify and fortify and ultimately, help in the healing process.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)

    The thing I always admire about Roxane Gay's writing, even when it makes me uncomfortable, is her ability to tackle issues head-on, with unflinching honesty. She may have hesitated, but you never see it on the page.

    This very open memoir about hunger and size is powerful. This is Roxane Gay's experience, laid bare. I can't imagine what it took for her to get all of these thoughts on the page. There is a bit of repetition or overlap between the tiny chapters, but this is reflective of the daily li

    The thing I always admire about Roxane Gay's writing, even when it makes me uncomfortable, is her ability to tackle issues head-on, with unflinching honesty. She may have hesitated, but you never see it on the page.

    This very open memoir about hunger and size is powerful. This is Roxane Gay's experience, laid bare. I can't imagine what it took for her to get all of these thoughts on the page. There is a bit of repetition or overlap between the tiny chapters, but this is reflective of the daily life of living the experience of being large in the world. The constant confrontations of well-meaning but damaging family, possibly well-intentioned but invasive strangers, the blindness of the medical profession (seeing obesity first), the connection between trauma and the protection of size, the damper that size puts on social life and travel (and how it is too difficult to explain it to friends, leading to all sorts of relationship issues), and how all of these truths make finding a place to just be, to relax, practically impossible. Why shouldn't food be a comfort?

    Of course part of my reaction to this memoir as a reader is what I identify with. I admire Gay for being able to look the layers of issues surrounding size and hunger directly in the eyes because it isn't as if doing so solves it. There are no answers here, but there are many truths. I wish I could make it required reading for many people in my life.

    This

    gives a good overview.

    oil

  • Emily May

    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 difficulty was deciding how to use quotes without quoting the wh

    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 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".

    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.

    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.

    It is an

    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.

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  • Elyse Walters

    Beautifully written....

    Tender, poignant and courageous....

    Heartfelt, heartbreaking and brave....

    Clearly, Roxanne's book deals with a dark, difficult and important subject. I can't imagine anyone more suited to explore what it means to be overweight.......

    "in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen".

    "Hunger" is a story that needed to be written.

    Roxane Gay says....."writing this book is the most difficult thing I've ever done. Too lay myself so vulnerable has not been an easy thing

    Beautifully written....

    Tender, poignant and courageous....

    Heartfelt, heartbreaking and brave....

    Clearly, Roxanne's book deals with a dark, difficult and important subject. I can't imagine anyone more suited to explore what it means to be overweight.......

    "in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen".

    "Hunger" is a story that needed to be written.

    Roxane Gay says....."writing this book is the most difficult thing I've ever done. Too lay myself so vulnerable has not been an easy thing. To face myself and what living in my body has been like has not been an easy thing, but I wrote this book because it felt necessary. In writing this memoir of my body, and telling you these truths about my body, I am sharing my truth and mine alone. I understand if that truth is not something you want to hear. The truth makes me uncomfortable too. But I am also saying, here is my heart, what's left of it. Here I am showing you the ferocity of my hunger. Here I am, finally freeing myself to be vulnerable and terribly human. Here I am, revealing and that freedom. Here. See what I hunger for and with my truth has allowed me to create".

    I love you Roxanne! Thank You!!!!

  • 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.

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)

    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

    And most of all,

    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

    And most of all,

    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.

    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

    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

    being able to heal faster. I hate being this person, but:

    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

    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,

    . 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.

  • 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!

  • Debbie

    Really torn about this one. On the one hand, this is an amazingly honest account of Roxane Gay's life with an unruly body, as she calls it, which developed after she was gang raped at 12. She ate and ate so that she could get big enough to build a fortress around herself.

    On the other hand, the book fell short for me. It was repetitive, for one, although I do think some of the repetition was purposeful--a stylistic choice. The language, to me, was dull. Plus there was nothing new on the subject o

    Really torn about this one. On the one hand, this is an amazingly honest account of Roxane Gay's life with an unruly body, as she calls it, which developed after she was gang raped at 12. She ate and ate so that she could get big enough to build a fortress around herself.

    On the other hand, the book fell short for me. It was repetitive, for one, although I do think some of the repetition was purposeful--a stylistic choice. The language, to me, was dull. Plus there was nothing new on the subject of obesity or the politics surrounding it. The tone was understated--some anger and sadness underlying her words--yet at the same time it felt strangely unemotional. I didn't feel attached. But I will cut her all the slack in the world. She is revealing who she is, the struggles she has had--who am I to criticize the way she tells her story?

    Racism, body shaming, and feminism are all touched upon, but the real story is about how the persistent PTSD led to loneliness, shame, hunger (of more than just food), and her weight problem.

    She expresses a sort of quiet anger about the way obese people are perceived and treated. Gay has had to learn to live with her large body, which is on display to the world. She has had to navigate physically through a land that can't accommodate her size in many ways. Chairs are too small, for example, and if the chair has arms, watch out—they can give her bruises. Her body size makes everything hard. Short walks are too long and painful, stares are too hurtful, conversations are strained. Her recounting of endless humiliations is heartbreaking. Learning about the indignities the author has had to endure made me examine how I think of my body and others’.

    As I said, most of what she said about obesity I already knew and almost all of the feelings that go with being overweight have been talked about before. However, her theme is groundbreaking in this way: Instead of talking about her food addiction, she talks about her body. It’s the first time I’ve heard the subject discussed solely from the point of view of body image. Seldom do people talk about their body. They talk about addiction and their difficulty in overcoming it. They talk about shame, self-control, self-loathing (which are all things that an unruly big body cause), but they don’t talk about how PTSD can change one’s body. In the past, I might have thought of PTSD as only affecting the head. Here we see how it blew away not only mind, but also her body. Eating allowed her to create a needed fortress while giving her comfort.

    I found her description of getting a tattoo fascinating. And she shed some new light on the subject of bulimia. Her descriptions of her humiliations were the most vivid and well-described. When she got into general non-fiction rhetoric, my interest waned. I wanted everything to be first person.

    Gang raped at 12. At 12! How do you survive that psychologically? The damage from the brutal attack will never disappear. She's in her 40s now, and she still thinks of her attackers, sometimes obsessing about the ringleader, who she thought was her friend. It is impossible to put myself in her shoes; what she endured is unimaginable. But one thing is sure--an experience like this will mess with your head in ways I can't begin to comprehend.

    Gay's story is a sad one, but she isn't throwing a pity party. She just wants to be understood, and she gets kudos for her bravery in revealing such personal information, for showing her underbelly. I'm thinking that writing this was probably therapeutic for her.

    How do you rate a memoir? Especially one where the author makes herself so vulnerable? I must remember that I'm not rating her life, just the way she tells her story. I admire Gay’s brilliance, bravery, and life, and I will continue to get my hands on everything she writes.

    I wanted to love this one, I really did, especially since Gay's novel

    is one of my all-time favorites. No dull language in that one. It still haunts me. The novel was based on her experience of gang rape. I felt it was a way more powerful book than this memoir, but I'm not at all sorry I read this book. I liked it, just didn't love it.

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