Book Review: Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay | More2Read

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


She is a haitian american writer that stands at six foot three and tells of her scars, her pain, and of how writing saved her life.
She was gang raped at 12 and then she found some comfort and security in food and size, her weight slowly grew. With all the unfortunate things that had taken place in her youth some good things she did have were in the form of a family home to go to of loving parents, and an education to fall back on, and she mentions this in this memoir.
She humbly bares all upon the page with sometimes brutal honesty.
Some hearts may find stirred some what with the evil that people do, bare it up and read just what it was and is like for her.
She layers out the chaos into some kind of order in a line one word after another in potent voice with lucid prose, vivid and crafted words.
She puts it all down for the world to read, omitting needles words she speaks on the page, and with every word an empathy grows within the reader, her strength grows, a relentless energy, her time, her voice.
An author that readers will want to read more of in fiction or in truth.
Something that will stay with you possibly and you may hurt and feel for her and the many she tells for, a voice of courage and hope that one can make it through the darkness.


“What does it say about our culture that the desire for weight loss is considered a default feature of womanhood?”

“I also want to lose weight. I know I am not healthy at this size (not because I am fat but because I have, for example, high blood pressure).”

“I am not angry. 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 was not only writing a memoir of my body; I was forcing myself to look at what my body has endured, the weight I gained, and how hard it has been to both live with and lose that weight. I’ve been forced to look at my guiltiest secrets. I’ve cut myself wide open. I am exposed. That is not comfortable. That is not easy.”

“Writing this book is a confession. These are the ugliest, weakest, barest parts of me. This is my truth.”

“This book, Hunger, is a book about living in the world when you are not a few or even forty pounds overweight. This is a book about living in the world when you are three or four hundred pounds overweight, when you are not obese or morbidly obese but super morbidly obese according to your body mass index, or BMI.”

“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.”

“What you need to know is that my life is split in two, cleaved not so neatly. There is the before and the after. Before I gained weight. After I gained weight. Before I was raped. After I was raped.”

“This is the body I made. I am corpulent—rolls of brown flesh, arms and thighs and belly. The fat eventually had nowhere to go, so it created its own paths around my body. I am riven with stretch marks, pockets of cellulite on my massive thighs. The fat created a new body, one that shamed me but one that made me feel safe, and more than anything, I desperately needed to feel safe. I needed to feel like a fortress, impermeable. I did not want anything or anyone to touch me.”

“Something terrible happened, and I wish I could leave it at that because as a writer who is also a woman, I don’t want to be defined by the worst thing that has happened to me. I don’t want my personality to be consumed in that way. I don’t want my work to be consumed or defined by this terrible something.”

“I hope that by sharing my story, by joining a chorus of women and men who share their stories too, more people can become appropriately horrified by how much suffering is born of sexual violence, how far-reaching the repercussions can be.”

“I also share what I do of my story because I believe in the importance of sharing histories of violence. I am reticent to share my own history of violence, but that history informs so much of who I am, what I write, how I write. It informs how I move through the world. It informs how I love and allow myself to be loved. It informs everything.”

“When I was twelve years old, I was raped. So many years past being raped, I tell myself what happened is “in the past.” This is only partly true. In too many ways, the past is still with me. The past is written on my body. I carry it every single day. The past sometimes feels like it might kill me. It is a very heavy burden.”

“There is a before and an after. In the after I was broken, shattered and silent. I was numb. I was terrified. I carried this secret and knew, in my soul, that what those boys did to me had to stay secret. I couldn’t share the shame and humiliation of it. I was disgusting because I had allowed disgusting things to be done to me. I was not a girl. I was less than human. I was no longer a good girl and I was going to hell.”

“In my free time, I wrote a lot, dark and violent stories about young girls being tormented by terrible boys and men. I couldn’t tell anyone what had happened to me, so I wrote the same story a thousand different ways. It was soothing to give voice to what I could not say out loud. I lost my voice but I had words. One of my English teachers, Rex McGuinn, recognized something in my stories. He told me I was a writer and he told me to write every day. I realize, now, that being told to write every day is writing advice many teachers give, but I took Mr. McGuinn very seriously, as if he were offering me sacred counsel, and I write every day, still.”

“I often tell my students that fiction is about desire in one way or another. 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.”

“One of the many things I have always loved about writing (not to be confused with publishing) is that all you need is your imagination. It doesn’t matter who you are, you can write. Your looks, especially, don’t matter. As a naturally shy person, I loved the anonymity of writing before my career took off. I loved how my stories didn’t care about my weight. When I started publishing that writing, I loved that, to my readers, what mattered were the words on the page. Through writing, I was, finally, able to gain respect for the content of my character.”

“When I was twelve years old I was raped and then I ate and ate and ate to build my body into a fortress. I was a mess and then I grew up and away from that terrible day and became a different kind of mess—a woman doing the best she can to love well and be loved well, to live well and be human and good.”

“I am increasingly committed to challenging the toxic cultural norms that dictate far too much of how women live their lives and treat their bodies. I am using my voice, not just for myself but for people whose lives demand being seen and heard. I have worked hard and am enjoying a career I never dared think possible.”


Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 14 June 2017