A memoir from celebrated essayist and fiction author Roxane Gay, in which the writer uses her own emotional and psychological struggles, including the fallout from a brutal sexual assault as a child, as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health.
...a bracingly vivid account of how intellect, emotion and physicality speak to each other and work in tireless tandem to not just survive unspeakable hurt, but to create a life worth living and celebrating. The critical beauty of Hunger is that Gay is so much smarter than everyone who has judged her based on her appearance, which she manages to convey without airs or ever actually stating this as fact. Her candor and self-awareness are necessary and reliable guides for the poignantly afflicted journey ... 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.
We all need to hear what Gay has to say in these pages. She reminds us that 'all of us have to be more considerate of the realities of the bodies of others,' that we need to transform public spaces and attitudes to make our world more welcoming and accessible for every living body. Gay says hers is not a success story because it’s not the weight-loss story our culture demands, but her breaking of her own silence, her movement from shame and self-loathing toward honoring and forgiving and caring for herself, is in itself a profound victory.
Gay presents these ideas with a light touch. The closest equivalent to the book’s tone is that of a ghostwritten celebrity autobiography: gossipy and full of minute and sometimes banal detail. Although warm and accessible, her prose is also uneven, bland, and cliché-prone. She writes flat, unshowy sentences: When it works, there’s an enjoyable clarity and impassiveness to her delivery; when it doesn’t, it’s mundane and repetitive. But a critique of her style would be elitist and pointless—her many fans love her regardless, and her work does not ask to be read as literary ... It may be true that, in order to get her message across, a public figure should strive to be relatable to as many people as possible. But what does this rule of relatability do for a writer whose message, whose life experience, is the painful difficulty of relating? The answer is that it tends to compress it into an unsynthesized mass of minor contradictions, leavened by fun observations about TV shows and given gravitas by the undeniable suffering of the author ... unexamined contradictions mean that despite the book’s confessional nature, it never fully explains Gay’s distinctive sense of her body as the outer expression of an inner wound.