I read Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist a few months ago and immediately put her next book, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body on my library request list. I described the former as unpacking the racist, misogynistic, and otherwise flawed world we live in. This book is that, but turned inward. Gay reckons with the great violence which was a turning point in her life and how it created in her a need to protect herself by becoming ever larger. She also discusses candidly what it is to be aware of the judgements of your body while simultaneously giving into the various hungers you feel. Bad Feminist was complex, empathetic, and rational and if it is possible this book is even more so.
It is difficult to know how to review this book. In ways it was too much: Gay is practicing an emotional honesty in her writing that you do not often come across and it often stopped me dead. In other ways I felt too seen, I recognized the emotions and realities of Gay’s life experience in my own even though so much is different. She writes with such precision and clarity that the shared territory becomes what matters and you are able to immediately extrapolate the rest and find the empathy within.
Reading this book, with its short, crisp chapters, is like watching someone you care deeply for exorcise their demons, and if they cannot exorcise them they will name them and continue the fight. It is witnessing someone’s journey towards healing but more importantly just talking about the things that seemed too large to talk about. We heal by talking about our hurts, our hungers. This is Roxane Gay embarking on that path.