Monday, August 27, 2018


Excerpts from Hunger by Roxane Gay

Page 17
            "It would be easy to pretend I am just fine with my body as it is. I wish I did not see my body as something I should apologize or provide explanation. I'm a feminist and I believe in doing away with the rigid beauty standards that force women to conform to unrealistic ideals. I believe we should have broader definitions of beauty that include diverse body types. I believe it is so important for women to feel comfortable in their bodies, without wanting to change every single thing about their bodies to find that comfort. I (want to) believe my worth as a human being does not reside in my size or appearance. I know, having grown up in a culture that is generally toxic to women and constantly trying to discipline women's bodies, that it is important to resist unreasonable standards for how my body or any body should look."

Page 29
            "My mom still takes pictures of everything and has more than twenty thousand pictures on her Flickr stream, pictures of her life and our lives and the people and places in our lives. At my doctoral defense, there she was, staring at me so proudly, every few minutes picking up her camera to snap a new picture, to capture every possible second of my moment. At a reading for my novel in New York City, there she was again with her camera, taking pictures, documenting another memorable moment." 

Pages 228-229
            "I never seem to hold on to the most important elements of my mother’s recipes, so when I am in my own home trying to cook certain Haitian dishes, I call home and she patiently walks me through the recipe. The sauce, a simple but elusive dish, stymies me. My mother reminds me to put on my cooking gloves. I pretend that such a thing would ever find a place in my kitchen. She tells me to slice onions and red peppers, setting the vegetables aside after a stern reminder to wash everything. My kitchen fills with the warmth of home. The sauce always turns out well enough but not great. I cannot place what, precisely, is off, and my suspicion that my mother has withheld some vital piece of information grows. As I eat the foods of my childhood prepared by my own hand, I am filled with longing and a quiet anger that has risen from my family’s hard love and good intentions.
            There is one Haitian dish I have mastered—our macaroni and cheese, which is filling but not as heavy as the American version. When I attend a potluck, an activity I dread because I am extraordinarily picky and suspicious of communal foods, I bring this dish. People are always impressed. They feel more cosmopolitan, I think. They expect there to be a rich narrative behind the dish because we have cultural expectations about “ethnic food.” I don’t know how to explain that for me the dish is simply food that I love, but one I cannot connect to in the way they assume. Instead of being a statement on my family’s culture, this dish, and most other Haitian foods, are tied up in my love for my family and a quiet, unshakable anger."

Page 245
            "I often tell my students that fiction is about desire in one way or another. The older I get, the more I understand that life is generally about the pursuit of desires. We want and want and oh how we want. We hunger". 

Page 247
            "Or I am thinking about testimony I've heard from other women over the years - women sharing their truths, daring to use their voices to say, "This is what happened to me. This is how I have been wronged." I've been thinking about how so much testimony is demanded of women, and still, there are those who doubt our stories.
            There are those who think we are all lucky girls because we are still, they narrowly assume, alive.
            I am weary of all our sad stories - not hearing them, but that we have these stories to tell, that there are so many."  

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