“The story of my body is not a story of triumph,” Roxane Gay writes in her new memoir, Hunger, which publishes June 13. “This is not a weight-loss memoir.”
Instead, Gay ― the author of Difficult Women, Bad Feminist and An Untamed State ― explores her relationship to her body before and after the sexual violence that would rattle her youth.
Gay discussed her new book Monday on “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah.”
“As a comedian, I’ve made a lot of fat jokes,” Noah said in his conversation with Gay. So he was intent on listening to what Gay had to say about her experiences rather than continuing to equate fatness with farce.
Gay explained that she often feels uncomfortable on airplanes, at movie theaters and even at her own book signings, where readers and fans have offered her unsolicited weight-loss advice.
“At the grocery store, people make commentary about what they see in your cart,” Gay said. “You don’t fit in the world, oftentimes. The world is not really interested in creating a space for you to fit.”
Gay also shared a story from her childhood, when she was gang raped at the age of 12, before she was old enough to understand what happened to her.
“It was so unexpected,” Gay said. “I just thought, ‘I want to be stronger. I want to be bigger.’ ... It was a deliberate choice.”
Hunger isn’t her first experience with discussing assault and its aftermath. For The Rumpus online literary magazine, she wrote about the careless language of sexual violence and other essays based on her experiences.
In Hunger, she writes, “I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe.” This feeling courses throughout the book, which is subtitled A Memoir of (My) Body.
On “The Daily Show,” describing her motivations for writing the book, Gay said, “I wanted to tell the story of my body, because when you’re fat in the world, people have assumptions. They assume you’re stupid. ... I think it’s important to show what it’s actually like to live in this world in a fat body.”