cover image Hunger


Roxane Gay. Harper, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-236259-9

Novelist and cultural critic Gay (Bad Feminist) writes of being morbidly obese in this absorbing and authentic memoir of her life as “a woman of size.” Born in l974 in Omaha, Neb., to Haitian immigrant parents, Gay initially lived a comfortable life in a loving family. After a group of boys raped her when she was 12 years old, Gay’s world began to unravel, and she turned to overeating as a way of making her violated body into a safe “fortress.” Ashamed to tell her Catholic parents what had occurred, she harbored her secret for more than 25 years. In the course of this memoir, Gay shares how her weight and size shade many topics, including relationships, fashion, food, family, the medical profession, and travel (the bigger her body became, the author notes, the smaller her world became). She suffered profound shame and self-loathing, and boldly confronts society’s cruelty toward and denigration of larger individuals (particularly women), its fear of “unruly bodies,” and the myth that equates happiness with thinness. 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. Agent: Maria Massie, LMQLit. (June)