Roxane Gay made quite a stir within the industry last year when she abruptly decided to pull her book How to Be Heard from Simon & Schuster just before publication. Her choice was in protest of the publishing house’s decision to sign a contract with one Milo Yiannopoulis.
Just who is Yiannopoulis, you ask? A questionable human at best, but known to many as the former senior editor of Breitbart News, who proudly embraces his title as “the most fabulous super-villain on the Internet.” In a nutshell, Yiannopoulis enjoys trolling online by making use of headlines to lure readers unsuspecting of his reputation for nonsense.
For instance, he’s really keen on shooting off at the mouth about everything from anti women’s rights to his fervent backing of President Donald Trump, whom Yiannopoulis casually refers to as, “Daddy.” (Gag, much?) He also single-handedly started the racial and hate-filled tirade against comedian Leslie Johnson, which spun so out of control it forced the star offline.
Then just ahead of the New Year, Simon & Schuster announced a new book deal with the controversial journalist for a forthcoming memoir. Needless to say, Gay wasn’t having that at all. Wanting absolutely nothing to do with Simon & Schuster’s handling her book after such news, Gay decided to move in an opposite direction and aired out her frustrations with to Yiannopoulis’ latest book deal on Twitter. While the publishing house never quite addressed Gay’s decision to pull her book, Yiannopolous ultimately proved too bad for business after another scandal broke concerning perverse comments he made after inking the deal and they parted ways with him too.
Fortunately, though, Gay has found a home with Harper Collins for her latest memoir, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, expected to release later on this year. Which makes two books for Gay in 2017: she released a short story collection on January 3, entitled, Difficult Women.
In an interview with Bustle last July, the author admitted her experience writing Hunger was a frightening one. She has also admitted the book is not about triumph or overcoming the plight associated with the unconventional body type; it is, in fact, a self-discovery, a memoir, as the title suggests. In the book, Gay chronicles her journey of coming to terms with the body she was born with, and how it feels to navigate through life in that body. And while it may not sound like sunshine and rainbows, it is starkly candid.
Gay isn’t just selling an idea for people to buy into, she understands the difference between the publicly known person and the entire person. So it’s easy to assume readers can expect Hunger to reveal even more of that part of herself. After all, what is a memoir if not a complex experience of personal truth? I think some people might want to be able to get behind Gay for this particular reason: doing something explicit with writing that is her own. Words are not intended for anyone else, but to send a certain message and if you are disappointed by the prospect, well, it isn’t your place. It’s none of ours.
Gay practices self-care by “…accepting her body as something that’s worthy of love.” — Bustle
Much like her fans, I believe Gay’s newest work will stir up some much-needed conversation on body image. However, audiences should bear in mind that this is a very private subject she’s dealing with here, one that may not reinforce the same ideas in her earlier works. Perhaps you’re still floating on empowerment fuel from Bad Feminist, but all of Gay’s work isn’t going to be the same. In all actuality, I champion Gay’s effort and courage to draw attention to the things we’re often most sensitive to talk about in public.
Oh and the secret project is for everyone BUT it is storytelling about fierce black, queer women. That's a lil hint.
— roxane gay (@rgay) June 17, 2016
While the contents of Gay’s book and exactly what she has in store for us remain adrift, the author promises the project will be “for everyone” but that there will be a central focus on very strong, very gay black women. With that being said, it’s easy to suspect Hunger will read in the same vein as Difficult Women, a collection of stories zooming in on the lives of troubled women. Nevertheless, I’m poising myself for its release on June 13.
What are you expecting of Roxane Gay’s forthcoming memoir, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body?
Share your thoughts on Gay’s work in the comments below! (And some personal recommendations, too!)