Roxane Gay, the author of Hunger and the New York Times bestseller, Bad Feminist, is an extraordinary essayist, writer of fiction and university teacher. But when she sat down to create a memoir, unfazed by the uncomfortable challenges when championing for gay and black women’s rights, she amassed a sizeable online following. And as the memoir explains in detail, it is her stature that earns lots of sneers, mockery and unsolicited responses and faux concerns yet nobody knows what she’s made of.
Hunger is a novel that explains how it feels to be “trapped in the cage of a body,” fashioned by the sexual violence she faced when she was just 12. She tells a tale that was probably as hard to write as it is emotional to read, especially because she endured physical and emotional obstacles from close to her and her parents never got to know.
A traumatic childhood
Hunger consists of at least two phases – a partial telling of the struggles of a fat, black women with her spiraling descriptions after enduring a rape. The self-blame and suffering compounded when the rapist embarasses the 12-year-old girl that ushers a wrong route of recovery. This part speaks about such themes as the vulnerability of a girl like her, the violations, sanctity, and sanity of resistance and learning to take care of oneself.
As a young, beautiful, petite, girl loved by her Haitian, well-off family, Gay writes that a young boy she thought might fall in love, along with a group of his friends, gang-raped her. Soon after, the untold pains, screams, and trauma engulf her life. To avoid the painful trauma, Roxane would overeating, thereby becoming fat, knowing too well that the fatter she became, the safer she would feel.
A series of events soon followed, including dropping out of Yale after her second year, fleeing to Phoenix with a guy she had met online and earning a living as a phone-sex worker. Everything including her sexual vacillations, caps off the sad, traumatised, hopeless and wounded Roxane Gay.
The road to recovery
The second part is more of recovery, self-actualisation, and forgiveness, along with humour and understanding of what life is. Admitting to Googling the man who raped her, calling him and then feeling afraid of speaking on the phone also explains “a confession” that Roxane’s Hunger is. She describes hunger as something that is in “metaphorical sense” helping understand the purpose of life.
Hunger isn’t an attention-seeking misery memoir, but rather an ally, escape, and solace of hers. From the way she documents the faltering, incomplete, unsensational account, all you can feel is the unthinkable abuse she suffered. With the criminal being an executive at a large corporation, it is anyone’s guess if the memoir would reach him and if indeed he gets hold of it, how he would feel.
Hunger by Roxane Gay is an absolute must-read if honest and inspirational memoir amazes you. You will read about her moving confessionals, why she refers to her body as “wildly undisciplined,” and what the talented author is capable of.
Reading duration: 6 hours 36 minutes
This book is available from Amazon at $16.15