The Body Politic: Author Roxane Gay

If Gay seems preoccupied with sex and violence, she does not differ in this from many other writers, whether in the literary world or in Hollywood, where such themes have always been popular regardless of the reasons why. Now sexual harassment, abuse, and assault of women are making real-life news headlines like no other time in American history, thanks to the #MeToo movement — and Gay comes to her subject matter from raw personal experience, which she writes about in Hunger. When she was twelve, a boy she considered her friend led her to an isolated location and orchestrated her gang rape by other boys their age. This traumatic event led her to start gaining weight as a defense mechanism against future attacks as well as a way to hide from herself and her family, in whom she did not confide at the time. Gay is a tall woman and has weighed as much as 577 pounds — the point at which she considered and ultimately rejected the idea of weight-loss surgery. Hunger, for her, is about living in her body and existing in a world that does not accept her size; Hunger is also about living in a body that is a cage for her trauma, how she got there, and whether or not she accepts herself.

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