A memoir from celebrated essayist and fiction author Roxane Gay, in which the writer uses her own emotional and psychological struggles, including the fallout from a brutal sexual assault as a child, as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health.
...a bracingly vivid account of how intellect, emotion and physicality speak to each other and work in tireless tandem to not just survive unspeakable hurt, but to create a life worth living and celebrating. The critical beauty of Hunger is that Gay is so much smarter than everyone who has judged her based on her appearance, which she manages to convey without airs or ever actually stating this as fact. Her candor and self-awareness are necessary and reliable guides for the poignantly afflicted journey ... Undestroyed, unruly, unfettered, Ms. Gay, live your life. We are all better for having you do so in the same ferociously honest fashion that you have written this book.
At its simplest, it’s a memoir about being fat — Gay’s preferred term — in a hostile, fat-phobic world. At its most symphonic, it’s an intellectually rigorous and deeply moving exploration of the ways in which trauma, stories, desire, language and metaphor shape our experiences and construct our reality ... Gay wrestles her story from the world’s judgment and misrecognition and sets off on a recursive, spiraling journey to rewrite herself. The story burrows in on itself while expanding exponentially ... With this book, she reclaims the body, reclaims the right to be seen and heard for who she (really) is.
Confessional memoirs often seem to spring from a hope that when a writer shares a painful experience, readers will not only be informed, they will be inspired to overcome their own pain. But Gay is not here to confess. Nor does she indulge in the promise of improvement or even inspiration. There is no successful therapy or diet or life-affirming meditation practice in Hunger. Hunger is a walk in Gay’s shoes, a record of the private pain of the endless and endlessly mundane inconvenience of travel through a world set up for people who move through the world differently than you do ... Gay describes herself as 'self-obsessed,' but she has written a memoir that never slides into narcissism. On the contrary, the movement of her thought and prose is open and expansive. Gay writes of extreme obesity with such candor and energetic annoyance that her frustration with herself and with the world around her attains universality. She writes about rape and its aftermath with such wounded, intelligent anger that a crime we are used to seeing primarily in sensational form on television becomes our reality as well as hers. That is a very generous act.