“I have been living in this unruly body for more than twenty years. I have tried to make peace with this body. I have tried to love or at least tolerate this body in a world that displays nothing but contempt for it. I have tried to move on from the trauma that compelled me to create this body. I have tried to love and be loved. I have been silent about my story in a world where people assume they know the why of my body, or any fat body. And now, I am choosing to no longer be silent. I am tracing the story of my body from when I was a carefree young girl who could trust her body and who felt safe in her body, to the moment when that safety was destroyed, to the aftermath that continues even as I try to undo so much of what was done to me.”
Terry Tempest Williams wrote in When Women Were Birds: “We all have our secrets. I hold mine. To withhold words is power. But to share our words with others, openly and honestly, is also power.” In Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, Roxane Gay shares her story with tremendous honesty and bravery, and there’s no doubt that this is one of the most powerful memoirs I’ve ever read.
She shares her tragedy, her struggles, her coping mechanisms, her humiliations, her secrets, her deepest longings. Her story involves the most horrendous gang rape, at a very young age—the event that divides her life into a before and after. Her story has much to say on violence, victimhood, surviving, family, and society. And hunger—yes, the literal hunger for food, but also hunger as the desire and longing and need that we all have in our lives.
Her words are powerful, and I want to share more of them with you, and then encourage you to pick up this work and fully immerse yourself in her truth.
“I don’t want to change who I am. I want to change how I look. On my better days, when I feel up to the fight, I want to change how this world responds to how I look because intellectually I know my body is not the real problem. On bad days, though, I forget how to separate my personality, the heart of who I am, from my body. I forget how to shield myself from the cruelties of the world.”
“Writing this book is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. To 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, in 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 make 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.”
“The older I get, the more I understand that life is generally the pursuit of desires. We want and want and oh how we want. We hunger.”
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.