Roxane Gay is the bestselling author of books including Bad Feminist and Difficult Women. In Hunger, she writes with intense honesty about being raped at age 12, and her subsequent struggles with overeating, guilt, abusive relationships, and identity.
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.
Roxane Gay’s Hunger is an incredibly personal and incredibly important account of survival and existence. It is probably the most honest memoir I have ever read. Throughout the book, Gay never claims to be a model feminist, woman, or survivor. Instead, she examines her past and present body and self, describing how being raped at age 12 led her to overeat and engage in harmful behaviors.
This book is an important read for women, survivors of rape, and anyone who struggles with existing in a body.
Reading Hunger made me realize how truly hostile the world is towards overweight and obese people. Roxane describes the ordeals she must go through every time she goes shopping, travels on a plane, or sits in a chair at a restaurant.
Hunger is not a guide or a success story. Roxane does not say “This is what you must do to get through this”. Instead she says “something awful happened to me, and it impacted me for the rest of my life, but I am dealing with it”. Like any person existing in the world, she is full of questions that are left unanswered.
Never before have I seen a book about being fat that is unapologetic and not about losing weight. Overall, Roxane’s book is not about recovery, but about living, no matter how painful that may be. I found this completely refreshing and realistic.
Hunger is at times heartbreaking, yet also at times hilarious. There’s a full chapter on the greatness that is “Barefoot Contessa”. At times, Roxane regrets her past “lost years”, but at other times looks towards her own future and the future of her nieces with hope. She writes of years filled with hopelessness and loneliness, and of times filled with love and kindness. “Hunger” is technical yet also emotional. It’s raw, real, and very honest. I cannot imagine the strength that Roxane must have had to write it, and I thank her for writing it.