According to my electronic dictionary, hunger means a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat or a strong desire or craving. I must say that Roxane Gay’s memoir Hunger A Memoir of (My) Body was named appropriately. She has a hunger but so did I as a reader and lover of her writing. I have to admit I didn’t love Difficult Women. I couldn’t understand the emphasis on these lost women who found themselves in the most appalling situations. I kept asking myself why.
I have read all of Gay’s works, except An Untamed State. It is the novel I seem to be putting off. I have been anticipating its true life brutally; even more now that I’ve read Hunger. Nevertheless, I will be reading it and completing Gay’s list of writing. I feel that now having finished Hunger, I understand her a bit more and can bring myself to accept the brutality and authenticity of her writing with my eyes wide open. Difficult Women presented me a real challenge, as did Hunger.
Hunger is a confession of sorts. It discusses sexual assault and recovering from that horrible experience alone. It also discusses being a big woman and all the challenges that she faces from society and family. Gay gave me a lot to think about in this memoir – everything from fat shaming, to eating disorders, to dating, family, and more. She BREAKS it down! There were things she speaks about in Hunger that I can relate to because I am also a big woman. When she said “It is a powerful lie to equate thinness with self-worth.” (Hunger, p. 135), I just wanted to rent a billboard and have that phrase written on it.
The best thing about this novel for me was its natural perfect progression. It begins and ends with the right tone. We learn quite a lot about Gay’s feelings on many different subjects and I commend her for her raw openness. She is brave, yet vulnerable. I couldn’t begin to imagine how honest this memoir was going to be. She is unbiased and unabashedly honest about some of the deepest problems in her life. Hunger is a way for Gay to exorcise those demons from her past. I’d like to think this memoir could help some people out there to accept and understand themselves better and to get help if they need it.
“I am realizing I am not worthless. Knowing that feels good. My sad stories will always be there. I am going to keep telling them even though I hate having the stories to tell. These sad stories will always weigh on me, though that burden lessens the more I realize who I am and what I am worth.” (Hunger, p. 251)
I read this book while listening to the audiobook with Roxane Gay’s voice – stong, unflinching and expressive. She manages to make the reader smirk and smile despite the seriousness of the memoir. She even uses pop culture and real examples, in order to make her thoughts crystal clear. I recommend listening to the audiobook if you’re thinking about reading Hunger. I’d even suggest reading Hunger first even if you haven’t read any of her other works. Watch the video below where Roxane Gay is interviewed in Australia about Difficult Women. It’s EXCELLENT! Roxane Gay doesn’t sugar coat anything and that’s what makes her so awe-inspiring.
My copy: Hunger A Memoir of (My) Body, Roxane Gay (Harper Collins), p. 304
My rating: * * * * *
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