Marvel’s Born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1974, Roxane Gay is an author, essayist, New York Times opinion writer and associate professor of English at Indiana’s Purdue University. She has published a novel, An Untamed State, two short story collections, Ayiti and Difficult Women, the New York Times bestseller Bad Feminist (which Time magazine described as “a manual on how to be human”), and a memoir, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (Corsair, £8.99), released in paperback on 7 June. It deals with Gay’s rape at the age of 12 and the lifelong consequences of her decision to make her body as big as possible as a form of self-protection. She is also the author of Marvel’s Black Panther: World of Wakanda and will publish her first YA work, The Year I Learned Everything, later this year. She lives between Indiana and LA.
From your early forays on to internet messageboards to writing this book, it seems as though language was a key part of processing the trauma of your childhood rape. Did writing offer control?
Definitely. I think writing always gives us control over the things that we can’t actually control in our lives, so taking control of the narrative of my body as a public space was absolutely helpful in terms of thinking about my relationship to my body.