REVIEW: ‘Hunger: a Memoir of (My) Body’ by Roxane Gay

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TW: Rape, Mental health and abuse.

 This is a book about my body, about my hunger, and ultimately, this is a book about disappearing and being lost and wanting so very much, wanting to be seen and understood. This is a book about learning, however slowly, to allow myself to be seen and understood.

I’m ashamed to admit that Hunger is the first book by Roxane Gay that I’ve read. I say I’m ashamed because I feel that by now, I really should have read Bad Feminist but with an ever-growing reading list and my book-buying habit, I seldom read all the books I intend on reading. When I saw Hunger in a bookshop, I knew I had to not only buy it but read it before the summer was over. As a person who has struggled with food, I’m always fascinated by women who have a relationship, whether good or bad, with food. It was not until last year that I realised that not everyone thought obsessively about the food they ate. Many people simply eat because they want to, eat because they need to or both.

The first thing that struck me about Hunger is how open, honest and vulnerable Gay’s writing is. Watching her interviews and seeing her tweets, I thought she was impermeable. I always wished I could be as confident and strong as women like Roxane Gay, women who seemed far too intelligent and fulfilled to worry about superficial things like bodies; but this book makes it evident that like many of us, Gay has spent a lot time obsessing over her body. Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Hunger: a Memoir of (My) Body’ by Roxane Gay”

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REVIEW: ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ by Reni Eddo-Lodge

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TW: Racism, Violence and Misogyny

First things first, Reni Eddo-Lodge has done the work for us. She’s made a book that people of colour can readily give to all well-meaning white friends and colleagues that want to have a ‘discussion’ about racism. She’s put in all the mental and emotional labour to create a book that covers topics like structural racism, racism within feminism, racial bias in the criminal justice system, white privilege, class, gentrification and police brutality and when you read the book, you’ll see that there are many more themes and issues she discusses that I won’t bother listing for you. I say this book is for well-meaning white people because many people of colour, especially those of us who concern ourselves with race, gender and class, will find that they already know the argument she presents in this book. Even though there were some things discussed that I wasn’t aware of, by and large reading this book was reading and agreeing with what I already knew. However, this is not a weakness. This book is a powerful tool that draws from cultural, political and economic history as well as current affairs in order to show that structural racism is alive and thriving in Britain.

The book is divided into seven chapters: ‘Histories’, ‘The System’, ‘What is White Privilege?’, ‘Fear of a Black Planet’, ‘The Feminist Question’, ‘Race and Class’ and ‘There’s No Justice, There’s Just Us’. Honestly, I found some of these chapters boring and had to plough through them but that is not because of a failure of her writing, but instead because as I said before, I don’t need to be told what white privilege is. At the same time, some chapters really stood out to me. Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ by Reni Eddo-Lodge”

REVIEW: ‘Stay with Me’ by Ayobami Adebayo

 

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Caution: Spoilers

Stay With Me is not revolutionary in style or content but when my mother stayed up until 2am reading it, I knew it would be a good story and in deed it was. Stay With Me tells the story of a young couple, Yejide and Akin, who struggle to have children. After four years of marriage, Yejide is yet to fall pregnant even after several interventions by the woman she calls Moomi, Akin’s mother. Eventually, Akin is ‘forced’ to take a second wife and this marks the beginning of the saga.

The first thing that struck me about the novel is Adebayo’s beautiful, lyrical writing. Stay With Me is one of those books where I found myself underlining sentences on every page because of how beautiful they sounded. The opening sentences: ‘I must leave this city today and come to you. My bags are packed and the empty rooms remind me that I should have left a week ago’, are a perfect example of Adebayo’s stripped back yet effective writing. Personally, I have a notoriously short attention span and enjoy novels most when writers are able to convey what they mean with the least amount of words. Adebayo knows when to extent descriptions and scenes and when to cut them short. In the opening chapter, she allows Yejide to wallow in her suffering but only for two pages, enough to introduce the reader to Yejide’s pain yet keep the integrity and strength of the character.  The novel continues this way, with chapters of different lengths and certain periods during the couple’s relationship repeated. Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Stay with Me’ by Ayobami Adebayo”