Gay's memoir is a harrowing account of her rape as a child, and of the eating disorders she developed as a result of that rape.
Told with clarity, Gay describes her relationship with her body, and with food throughout the years following her assault.
Hunger is a deeply important read, but not by any means any easy one. In a world that would prefer us to not talk about these matters, Hunger requires the reader to face the truth. The truth of how our society treats female bodies, and the truth of how our society deals with sexual assault, and how those two things intertwine.
July 2017 Indie Next List
“This memoir is about trauma and privilege, self-loathing, and a silent fear kept secret for far too long. It's about our obsession with body weight and body image, what happens when we internalize our pain and become self-destructive, and how very, very large people are treated in humiliating ways. The descriptions of addictive behavior and the journey to want to heal make this book more universal than I expected. When you decide that this is the day you're going to change and you get out of bed and fail, that's pretty normal. You'll have another chance tomorrow - just remember to like yourself enough to overcome the fear of healing and try again. Highly recommend.”
— Todd Miller (M), Arcadia Books, Spring Green, WI
Summer 2018 Reading Group Indie Next List
“Brave, heartbreaking, and unflinching, this is a powerful examination of how trauma scars our bodies, how our bodies betray us in return, and how even the most well-meaning among us participate in shaming those whose differences make us uncomfortable. Reading Hunger is uncomfortable, illuminating, and necessary.”
— Clara Boza, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC
New York Times bestseller
National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
Lambda Literary Award winner
A best book of 2017: Time NPR People Elle The Washington Post The Los Angeles Times The Chicago Tribune Newsday St. Louis Post-Dispatch PopSugar BookRiot Library Journal Booklist Kirkus Reviews Shelf Awareness
New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and bodies, 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 casts an insightful and critical eye on her childhood, teens, and twenties—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers into the present and the realities, pains, and joys of her daily life.
With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and authority that have made her one of the most admired voices of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen. Hunger is a deeply personal memoir from one of our finest writers, and tells a story that hasn’t yet been told but needs to be.
About the Author
Roxane Gay is the author of the essay collection Bad Feminist, which was a New York Times bestseller; the novel An Untamed State, a finalist for the Dayton Peace Prize; and the short story collections Difficult Women and Ayiti. A contributing opinion writer to the New York Times, she has also written for Time, McSweeney’s, the Virginia Quarterly Review, the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Rumpus, Bookforum, and Salon. Her fiction has also been selected for The Best American Short Stories 2012, The Best American Mystery Stories 2014, and other anthologies. She is the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel. She lives in Lafayette, Indiana, and sometimes Los Angeles.
“A work of staggering honesty . . . . Poignantly told.”
— New Republic
“The book’s short, sharp chapters come alive in vivid personal anecdotes. . . . And on nearly every page, Gay’s raw, powerful prose plants a flag, facing down decades of shame and self-loathing by reclaiming the body she never should have had to lose.”
— Entertainment Weekly
“Bracingly vivid. . . . Remarkable. . . . 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.”
— Los Angeles Times
“Searing, smart, readable. . . . “Hunger,” like Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me,” interrogates the fortunes of black bodies in public spaces. . . . Nothing seems gratuitous; a lot seems brave. There is an incantatory element of repetition to “Hunger”: The very short chapters scallop over the reader like waves.”
“Luminous. . . . intellectually rigorous and deeply moving.”
— The New York Times Book Review
“Her spare prose, written with a raw grace, heightens the emotional resonance of her story, making each observation sharper, each revelation more riveting. . . . It is a thing of raw beauty.”
— USA Today
“Powerful. . . . fierce. . . . Gay has a vivid, telegraphic writing style, which serves her well. Repetitive and recursive, it propels the reader forward with unstoppable force.”
— Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers
“This is the book to read this summer . . . she’s such a compelling mind . . . . Anyone who has a body should read this book.”
— Isaac Fitzgerald on the Today show
“Hunger is Gay at her most lacerating and probing. . . . Anyone familiar with
Gay’s books or tweets knows she also wields a dagger-sharp wit.”
— Boston Globe
“Wrenching, deeply moving. . . a memoir that’s so brave, so raw, it feels as if [Gay]’s entrusting you with her soul.”
— Seattle Times
“It is a deeply honest witness, often heartbreaking, and always breathtaking. . . . Gay is one of our most vital essayists and critics.”
— Minneapolis Star Tribune
— Miami Herald
“This raw and graceful memoir digs deeply into what it means to be comfortable in one’s body. Gay denies that hers is a story of “triumph,” but readers will be hard pressed to find a better word.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A heart-rending debut memoir from the outspoken feminist and essayist. . . . An intense, unsparingly honest portrait of childhood crisis and its enduring aftermath.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Displays bravery, resilience, and naked honesty from the first to last page. . . . Stunning . . . essential reading.”
— Library Journal (starred review)
“A work of exceptional courage by a writer of exceptional talent.”
— Shelf Awareness (starred review)
Praise for Bad Feminist:“A strikingly fresh cultural critic.”
— Ron Charles, Washington Post
“Roxane Gay is the brilliant girl-next-door: your best friend and your sharpest critic. . . . She is by turns provocative, chilling, hilarious; she is also required reading.”
“[Gay is] hilarious. But she also confronts more difficult issues of race, sexual assault, body image, and the immigrant experience. She makes herself vulnerable and it’s refreshing.”
— Tanvi Misra, Atlantic, "The Best Book I Read This Year"