Photo via Harper
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay (available June 13)
This isn’t a story about weight loss. Roxane Gay makes that much clear in the first few lines of her new book, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. No miraculous diet will be revealed, nor will it encourage you to give up gluten. Rather, this work offers a timeline of Gay’s young, safe body up to the moment it was violated. That’s her trauma to reveal, so we won’t discuss it here, but it marks the start of her descent into a kind of nothingness. The beginning of her “after.”
She copes by turning inward. She does so through theater, reading, writing, tattoos, the internet, and food. It is her relationship with the latter that forms the foundation of the narrative, but the definition of “hunger” also extends far beyond physical appetites into deeper yearnings.
The world has plenty of stories about bodies—how to take care of them, how to understand them, how to love them. But few feel this raw. In the process of composing this book, Gay has said that she used her Tumblr entries as a starting point, and it reads as such. The chapters are short, often comprising stream-of-consciousness thoughts that she works through in real time. They sometimes seem so intimate, you almost wish you’d asked permission before reading them.
The truths Gay writes about aren’t easy to digest, but they’re necessary if we ever want to reach a place of understanding on the realities of bodies other than our own. —Taylor Bryant
This review appears in NYLON’s June/July 2017 issue