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

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...

Title:Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body
Author:
Rating:
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:320 pages

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body Reviews

  • Roxane
    Jul 31, 2014

    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.

  • Jessica
    Apr 22, 2017

    Update: I had to share Roxane's

    on the Daily Show, because it's amazing.

    Holy shit, Roxane Gay has written one hell of a memoir. This book is powerful on about forty-seven different levels and I really think that it ought to be required reading for anyone interested in feminism and the body-positive movement. But also, just anyone who wants to read good writing because holy shit, Roxane Gay:

    It's kind of unfair.

    This book was originally announced as a 2016

    Update: I had to share Roxane's

    on the Daily Show, because it's amazing.

    Holy shit, Roxane Gay has written one hell of a memoir. This book is powerful on about forty-seven different levels and I really think that it ought to be required reading for anyone interested in feminism and the body-positive movement. But also, just anyone who wants to read good writing because holy shit, Roxane Gay:

    It's kind of unfair.

    This book was originally announced as a 2016 summer release, but it got pushed back because she needed some more time to work on it. Within half an hour of starting this book, it's obvious why she needed that time. This is one of the most intensely personal things I've ever read and it's full of so much pain that was clearly never fully processed. Writing it must have been the most difficult thing in the world.

    With that in mind, reading this was not easy. It was sometimes so brutal that I had to set it down, and yet it was so engrossing that I still managed to read it in just over 24 hours.

    So here it is: Roxane Gay is a fat woman. At her heaviest, she weighed nearly 600 pounds. She’s smaller than that today, but she’s still a very large woman. She sometimes feels like that fact makes up her sole identity. Which is a shame because so many people love her intellect but also obvious because that's the world we live in and it can’t be an easy thing for her to navigate. I struggle with it, and I’m only 30 pounds(ish) heavier than I want to be. I feel like the fattest woman in the world some days, even though rationally I know I’m not. I don’t even need plus-size clothing, so I can’t imagine what it must be like when the numbers are exponentially larger.

    Even though Gay spends a lot of time probing the psychological barriers that have contributed to her weight gain, this book isn’t about “making excuses.” When she was 12, Gay was gang-raped by a group of boys and she didn’t tell anyone about it...for 30 years. She didn’t know how to ask for the help she needed, so she just kept it all in. The self-blame, the depression, the bullying and slut-shaming she received. The next year, she left home for boarding school and she discovered comfort in the form of food. Without any adults really keeping an eye on her, she began to gain weight. Her feelings of trauma and her need for comfort were so intense that her weight gain was rather dramatic. Her family was startled by the change, but didn’t know the psychological roots and so their response really just made her feel worse. She began to conflate her size and her individual self-worth, which really only intensified her depression and led her to seek yet more comfort in food.

    This is a powerful statement in favor of the body-positive movement, even if Gay doesn’t want it to be or doesn’t seem to think it needs to be. But here’s the thing: so many people are down on that movement because, “Well being fat isn’t healthy and accepting that someone is fat is bad for them. If we really wanted to help, we’d encourage them to lose that weight.” Gay skewers that point of view so well here, even if she doesn’t explicitly intend to. She knows she’s fat, she knows how she got there, and she harbors no illusions about it. She doesn’t want to be fat and she’s even taken some steps to lose some of the weight. But it’s hard to go to a gym and get exercise when you’re 400 pounds when the other people at the gym make you feel like shit because you’re 400 pounds. She doesn’t need fit people telling her that being fat is unhealthy and she should lose weight.

    It’s hard to break habits that you’ve held for decades, especially when your self-image is so tightly wound up with the way your body looks: you feel bad because of the weight, so you comfort yourself with food and gain more weight, then you feel even worse. And so much of our culture winds those things together so tightly. This bond is magnified when, like Gay, your initial weight gain is largely tied to mental health issues with other causes. There’s a lot of psychological layers to dig through, and maybe if our culture allowed people (women) to separate their feelings of value from their weight, it might actually help with both the value and the weight.

    Long story short: the “fat acceptance” movement, as it gets derisively called, isn’t about letting people be as fat and as unhealthy as they want. It’s about letting them feel good about themselves even though they are fat. Being fat shouldn't be the sole thing that makes up your identity.

    This is a hard, hard book to read because Gay goes into a lot of traumatic issues, particularly sexual assault. Tread carefully if you’re sensitive to those kinds of things. But there’s so much to think about in this book. It shines a new light on her previous work, it’s an unapologetic look at mental health and obesity and trauma and rape culture, and it’s one woman’s beautifully written account of a difficult life story. It's one of the best memoirs I've ever read and I can't recommend it enough.

  • Hannah
    Jun 25, 2017

    This is the memoir I will compare all other memoirs against. Roxane Gay has written one hell of a perfect book. If I hadn't been a fan before, I would for sure be one now. Not only is this an honest, unflinching look at herself and her life and her choices, it is also stylistically beautiful in a way most books (fiction or non-fiction) never achieve.

    Roxane Gay tells, quite literally, the story of her body. She is completely and brutally honest in her approach and does not mince her words when de

    This is the memoir I will compare all other memoirs against. Roxane Gay has written one hell of a perfect book. If I hadn't been a fan before, I would for sure be one now. Not only is this an honest, unflinching look at herself and her life and her choices, it is also stylistically beautiful in a way most books (fiction or non-fiction) never achieve.

    Roxane Gay tells, quite literally, the story of her body. She is completely and brutally honest in her approach and does not mince her words when describing the negative influence her "unruly" body has on her life and the way people treat her because of it. She describes being hypervisible and invisible at the same time; she shows the way she is treated as less than; she shows her own unhealthy fixation on something she

    does not define her worth as a person. I am impressed by her willingness to be open and vulnerable.

    I love the circular way in which she tells her tale, weaving expressions into her language again and again and thus stylistically showing her struggle and the way her thoughts move, around and around and around. Roxane Gay language is, as usual, beautiful, understated, and always perfect. It has been days since I finished this book and I am still in awe and still thinking about it. Her sentences reverberated with me and left me speechless.

    The way she tells her story is deeply personal while at the same time highly political and I adored that. She has an impressive way of connecting the personal facts of her life to the larger implications of society. There is a reason why she is one of the voices of my generation and one of my absolute personal heroes.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    Apr 30, 2017

    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

  • Sam
    May 06, 2017

    Roxane Gay,

    .

    Unflinching honesty, ugly and beautiful truth. Reading Roxane Gay's memoir

    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,

    .

    Unflinching honesty, ugly and beautiful truth. Reading Roxane Gay's memoir

    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

    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

    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

    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.

    , 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

  • Emily May
    May 25, 2017

    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
    Jun 11, 2017

    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!!!!

  • Esil
    Jul 12, 2017

    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!


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