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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. 4 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

    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 An Untamed State 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.

  4. 4 out of 5

    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!!!!

  5. 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. Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Youtube

  6. 4 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.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    I finished Hunger 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. Hunger 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 Hunger 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. Hunger 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 Hunger. 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 Appetites , 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: "Losing control of my body was a matter of accretion. I began eating to change my body. I was willful in this. Some boys had destroyed me, and I barely survived it. I knew I wouldn't be able to endure another such violation, and so I ate because I thought that if my body became repulsive, I could keep men away. Even at that young age, I understood that to be fat was to be undesirable to men, to be beneath their contempt, and I already knew too much about their contempt. 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." As with all great memoirs, Gay's vulnerability in Hunger 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 human 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 Hunger. I want to share one last quote from the book to close this review: "In writing this memoir of my body, in telling you these truths about my body, I am sharing my truth and mine alone. I understand if the 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, reveling in that freedom. Here. See what I hunger for and what my truth has allowed me to create." 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.

  8. 5 out of 5

    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 profile in Elle gives a good overview. Thanks to the publisher for providing early access to the title through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. It quickly jumped to the top of my tbr pile!oil

  9. 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-...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    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 knows 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 4 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.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Update: I had to share Roxane's interview 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: How do you write like this?! It's kind of unfair. This book was originally announced as a 2016 Update: I had to share Roxane's interview 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: How do you write like this?! 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.

  14. 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

  15. 5 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.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    "Something Terrible Happened"Whew! Roxane Gay gives it up and lays it all out there baring body and soul to the world in HUNGER.She writes about the unspeakable horror that broke her young body and mind at age 12 and reveals the struggles of a 400+ weight challenged woman in our society....the limitations....the stares....the shame....and the constant battle of trying to lose hundreds of pounds.She also reveals facts about health issues, personal relationships and difficulty in purchasing clothe "Something Terrible Happened"Whew! Roxane Gay gives it up and lays it all out there baring body and soul to the world in HUNGER.She writes about the unspeakable horror that broke her young body and mind at age 12 and reveals the struggles of a 400+ weight challenged woman in our society....the limitations....the stares....the shame....and the constant battle of trying to lose hundreds of pounds.She also reveals facts about health issues, personal relationships and difficulty in purchasing clothes beyond the sizes offered by even a Lane Bryant....and then....there's always those horrific haunted memories of what she endured.Roxane Gay is a talented writer with a loving, supportive family. She often writes about sexual violence as in AN UNTAMED STATE....my first experience reading Gay's work....an excellent read; and now I understand why she chooses such disturbing subjects.As for HUNGER, while somewhat redundant in the telling, it is a very brave and emotionally raw offering that "demands to be told and deserves to be heard." It is about recognition of those who don't fit the mold and acceptance of same. It is about coming to terms with her ordeal.Gay writes, "Mine is not a success story. Mine is simply a true story." One final note: I do hope HE and HIS cohorts read this powerful story and have the backbone (not the word I wanted to use) to finally come forward and apologize for their despicable actions. Perhaps that would ease Ms. Gay's struggle.

  17. 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.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Aya Hamza

    “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.” *Listened to the audiobook, read by Roxane Gay herself. TRIGGER WARNING: Rape and eating disorders. 2.5 stars. I was hesitant to write this review, because everyone loved this book, and I thought I would.. but I didn't like it as much! Parts of this book made me an “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.” *Listened to the audiobook, read by Roxane Gay herself. TRIGGER WARNING: Rape and eating disorders. 2.5 stars. I was hesitant to write this review, because everyone loved this book, and I thought I would.. but I didn't like it as much! Parts of this book made me angry. First, I have to admit that this was brave of Gay to write this memoir. She is an amazing storyteller. The book was raw and honest. She didn't sugarcoat things. This is not a positive book, because she is still not happy. She is still struggling. She is not happy with her body, and she is not happy with the world that makes her feel that. However.. I have two issues with this book.. 1- You can feel her anger through out the book. And that's totally okay. But sometimes, it felt whiny specially toward medicine and doctors! I understand how feeling uncomfortable in your body because of people is awful and frustrating. But complaining about "doctors telling patients to lose weight because they are morbidly obese" is something I can't agree with. I tried to ignore these parts, I told myself she has every right to be angry and say these things out of anger, but going further into the book, I couldn't ignore them anymore! Multiple times, these parts made me feel that all of the things I've learnt and still learning in medical school are trash. And I am telling you, that's awful to feel that way because of a book. I came to realize that she still doesn't understand that doctors offering weight loss as a part of treatment is for their health, not because they hate fat people! If you are healthy and fat, that's amazing. And many people do! But if you have some health issues, a change in diet and losing some weight only can be more than enough as a treatment! I stand by doctor in this point and I can't agree with what she was trying to convince me! She has an unhealthy relationship with food, and she never discusses that. 2- I hated the parts where she talked about other girls going to the gym even though they are thinner than her, and she needed the gym more than them! They choose to go to the gym because they want to stay healthy. It doesn't matter how much you weigh! It is frustrating to listen to her and how angry she is about how the world sees her, and on the other hand, start judging people for what they do! I understand that part of her thoughts is because of rape and that victims of rape don't feel comfortable or connected to their bodies, and it needs a long time to be comfortable in their bodies again. So, I think this wasn't the right time for her to write this memoir. Enough rambling. Overall, The parts I liked in this book, I really liked. And the parts I hated in this book, I really hated. I am giving it an average rating. And I still encourage you to read it because it is important and powerful, even if I didn't love it myself.

  19. 4 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...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    Part self loathing part empowering account of a woman dealing and living with her life long weight demons. She recounts so many of the indignities that befall her as a larger person in today's society. It's both incredibly uncomfortable and comforting to hear someone else describe trauma and pain so acutely. It makes your own pain and troubles feel not so isolating. I found some of the stories here so brutally honest and feel so ashamed at humanity. The cruelty, the indignity she suffered due to Part self loathing part empowering account of a woman dealing and living with her life long weight demons. She recounts so many of the indignities that befall her as a larger person in today's society. It's both incredibly uncomfortable and comforting to hear someone else describe trauma and pain so acutely. It makes your own pain and troubles feel not so isolating. I found some of the stories here so brutally honest and feel so ashamed at humanity. The cruelty, the indignity she suffered due to ignorant, small minds with zero empathy makes me feel sick to my stomach. Any book that can stop me in my tracks and make me accountable for my pre conceived ideas about weight and obesity is a book that I believe has the power to change many minds. Here I won't even try to critique the writing as that feels redundant. The book is bigger than the writing this book is necessary. You really get to understand why Roxane presents a tough exterior, why she shies away. Her body becomes a shield from the outside world. Part punishment and half protection, her story is hers but also that of many. I'm so sorry Roxane for everything that has happened to you but you are one strong woman and I am glad you were able to share your story as incredibly difficult it must have been to do so. This book..read it learn from it, it will make you angry, sad and hopefully and ultimately it be a lesson in understanding and compassion.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sh3lly (grumpybookgrrrl.com)

    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.

  22. 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.

  23. 5 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/...

  24. 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).

  25. 5 out of 5

    میعاد

    وقتى دوازدهساله بودم، تعدادى پسر که اهداف خطرناک مردها را در سر میپروراندند به من تجاوز کردند؛ اتفاق وحشتناكى بود، منجر به دگرگونشدن زندگیام شد. پیش از آن، خام بودم، آفتابمهتابندیده بودم. باور داشتم که آدمها ذاتاً خوب هستند و لزوماً فروتنی را به ارث مىبرند. باایمان بودم و به خدا اعتقاد داشتم. و بعد دیگر نداشتم. شکسته بودم. دگرگون شده بودم. هرگز متوجه نخواهم شد که اگر تبدیل به دختر درون جنگل نمیشدم چه کسی میشدم. آن پسرها دختری را که بودم کُشتند، ولی تمام وجودم را نكشتند. آنها تفنگی را روی شقیقهام وقتى دوازده‌ساله بودم، تعدادى پسر که اهداف خطرناک مردها را در سر می‌پروراندند به من تجاوز کردند؛ اتفاق‌ وحشتناكى بود، منجر به دگرگون‌شدن زندگی‌ام شد. پیش از آن، خام بودم، آفتاب‌مهتاب‌ندیده بودم. باور داشتم که آد‌م‌ها ذاتاً خوب هستند و لزوماً فروتنی را به ارث مى‌برند. باایمان بودم و به خدا اعتقاد داشتم. و بعد دیگر نداشتم. شکسته بودم. دگرگون شده بودم. هرگز متوجه نخواهم شد که اگر تبدیل به دختر درون جنگل نمی‌شدم چه کسی می‌شدم. آن پسرها دختری را که بودم کُشتند، ولی تمام وجودم را نكشتند. آن‌ها تفنگی را روی شقیقه‌ام یا چاقویی را روی گلویم نگذاشتند و تهدیدم نکردند. من نجات یافتم. به خودم یاد دادم که شکرگزار نجات‌یافتنم باشم حتی اگر خیلی شبیه به نجات‌یافتن نبود. من از درون خالى شده بودم. مصمم بودم تا خلأ را پُر كنم، و غذا چيزى بود كه با آن پيرامون بخشِ كوچكى كه از من باقى مانده بود يك سپر ساختم. خوردم و خوردم و خوردم به اميد اينكه اگر خودم را گُنده كنم، بدنم در امان خواهد بود. من دخترى را كه روزگارى بودم به خاك سپردم چون غرق در مشكلات مختلف بود. كوشيدم تا تمام خاطراتش را پاك كنم، ولى او هنوز آن‌جاست، در یک جایی.... هنوز کوچک و وحشت‌زده و خجالت‌زده است، و شاید دارم می‌نویسم که پيش او بازگردم، می‌کوشم تا هر چه را که لازم بوده بشنود به او بگویم. ====== کتاب رو می‌تونین از نشر کوله‌پشتی تهیه‌ش کنین📚

  26. 4 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.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lily ☁️

    ➳ 3 1/2 stars “I often say that reading and writing saved my life. I mean that quite literally.” Gosh, this was book was heartbreaking. I’m usually not too fond of listening to audiobooks, but memoirs and biographies are the rare exception in which I actually prefer them, especially if the authors themselves are reading their work. Roxane Gay speaks from her heart in Hunger. Her words are raw, unfiltered, and unflinching. You feel her deep-seated pain, and you feel her struggle to cope with the ab ➳ 3 1/2 stars “I often say that reading and writing saved my life. I mean that quite literally.” Gosh, this was book was heartbreaking. I’m usually not too fond of listening to audiobooks, but memoirs and biographies are the rare exception in which I actually prefer them, especially if the authors themselves are reading their work. Roxane Gay speaks from her heart in Hunger. Her words are raw, unfiltered, and unflinching. You feel her deep-seated pain, and you feel her struggle to cope with the abuse she had to endure in her past, which is still inflicting pain in her present. Her words burrow themselves deep in your mind, preparing to stay there for a long time. “I tried to be the good girl my parents wanted me to be, but it was exhausting. On so many occasions, I wanted to tell them something was wrong. That I was dying inside.” I don’t think I have ever sympathized so deeply with someone whose pain comes from circumstances I can’t even come close to being able to relate to, and I was more than surprised to find people criticizing (or, more accurately: hating on) Roxane Gay for supposedly doing nothing but complain about her life, and blame others for her misery in this book. Maybe I’m biased, because I write myself, but to me it read more like the words of a woman who is bringing her pain to paper, and trying to come to terms with, and process the tormenting thoughts and resulting habits that are (at the time this book was written), and have been haunting her for most of her life. “I was broken, and then I broke some more, and I am not yet healed, but I have started believing I will be.” Blog ¦ Bloglovin’ ¦ Tumblr ¦ Instagram

  28. 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.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    (3.5) I’d never read anything by Roxane Gay before, but somehow already knew the basics of her story: the daughter of Haitian immigrants to the American Midwest, she was gang raped at age 12, and to some extent everything she’s done and become since then has been influenced by that one horrific experience. Not least her compulsive overeating: “I ate and ate and ate to build my body into a fortress,” she writes, as if the bigger she grew the safer she would remain. At her heaviest Gay was super m (3.5) I’d never read anything by Roxane Gay before, but somehow already knew the basics of her story: the daughter of Haitian immigrants to the American Midwest, she was gang raped at age 12, and to some extent everything she’s done and become since then has been influenced by that one horrific experience. Not least her compulsive overeating: “I ate and ate and ate to build my body into a fortress,” she writes, as if the bigger she grew the safer she would remain. At her heaviest Gay was super morbidly obese according to her BMI, a term that “frames fat people like we are the walking dead.” Though presented as a memoir, this is more like a collection of short autobiographical essays (88 of them, in six sections). The portions that could together be dubbed her life story take up about a third of the book, maybe a little more, and the rest is riffs around a cluster of related topics: weight, diet, exercise and body image. The writing style is matter-of-fact (e.g. “My body is a cage of my own making”), which means the author never comes across as self-pitying even when what she is describing is desperately sad. I also appreciate how she holds opposing notions in tension: she doesn’t know how she developed such an “unruly” body; she knows exactly how it happened. She recognizes that there are many kinds of hunger, emotional as well as physical, and that shame, guilt and comfort are complex concepts. The structure of the book made it a little repetitive for me, but I think that what Gay has written will be of tremendous value, not just to rape victims or those whose BMI is classed as obese, but to anyone who has struggled with body image – so pretty much everyone, especially females. And there are some moments here I’m going to have a hard time forgetting: Gay locking eyes with a blonde at the gym and defiantly completing a full hour on the exercise bike, a man putting up a fuss about her being next to him in the emergency exit row on a plane and her silent crying after he moved seats, and (somehow worst of all) learning how to be bulimic from the Internet. I’ll be interested to try the rest of Gay’s work; I have her short story collection Difficult Women on Kindle.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Adira

    Roxane Gay poured her heart onto the page with this one and dared readers to look away from her pain. (view spoiler)[This book isn't for the faint of heart since Gay basically is outlining 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 Roxane Gay poured her heart onto the page with this one and dared readers to look away from her pain. (view spoiler)[This book isn't for the faint of heart since Gay basically is outlining 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 really real quick. #IWasNotReady

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