The first line of the marketing letter that comes with the Uncorrected Proof of Roxane Gay’s Hunger reads, “Dear Bookseller, What you have before you is not an easy book to read. But I guarantee that as soon as you start, you won’t be able to put it down.” Both things are true.
Hunger is an open wound. I read several passages through tears. It broke my heart.
Hunger is not a book for me. I’m not a survivor, I’ve struggled with weight but society isn’t structured in a way that makes the struggle worse, and I often pass for white.
But because I am a human being, when Gay chronicles her feelings about something as simple as shopping, the line
“These are trivial wants but they aren’t.”
just… kills me.
At the same time, we are the same age and much of it felt like a personal message to me. Passages like this, for instance.
With age comes self-awareness, or something that looks like self-awareness, and so I try to be on the lookout for patterns of behavior, choices I’m making where I’m trying too hard, giving too much, reaching too intently for being right where right is what someone else wants me to be. It’s scary, though, trying to be yourself and hoping yourself is enough. It’s scary believing that you, as you are, could ever be enough. – Roxane Gay, Hunger
Roxane claims she is not writing an uplifting memoir. She claims not to be as strong as she appears, not to be worthy of anyone’s inspiration.
The fact of these pages proves her wrong.
Few things in our culture can be genuinely described as “moving;” Roxane Gay’s Hunger is one of them.